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Hospital discharge High Court ruling — BASW England statement

Discharging people from hospitals to care home settings at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic ruled unlawful by High Court

BASW England notes yesterday’s High Court ruling on policies relating to discharging people from hospitals to care home settings at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The High Court has ruled that the policies were unlawful. The case was brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, who tragically lost their fathers and had raised concerns about policies which sought to discharge patients into care homes without testing or suitable isolating arrangements.

These changes also opened care home staff to significant risk due to their exposure to Covid.

BASW England highlighted, campaigned and expressed concerns at the time - including in a statement released in May 2020.

We hope that the upcoming UK Covid-19 public inquiry will consider the Government’s policies in relation to hospital discharge - and that those involved with the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign, and others affected by the Government’s Covid-19 policies, are given a platform to share their experiences so that lessons can be learned.

It is also important that we understand why the concerns raised by BASW England, the wider sector and the people affected were ignored by the Government. We hope there is an opportunity for this to be addressed in the Public Inquiry so that justice can be secured for the thousands who tragically lost their lives in the pandemic.

Following the High Court ruling Charlie Williams, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, shared the following statement:

“I lost my father in a care home back in April 2020. We kept him there because we had been told that no one in the care home had Covid, that he would be safe, but later we learned from the staff, who were fantastic, that 27 patients had in fact died from the virus there. 

"For the thousands of families like mine who lost loved ones in care homes, the last two years of cover ups and denials have been unbelievably painful. We’ve always known that our loved ones were thrown to the wolves by the Government, and the claims made by Matt Hancock that a ‘protective ring’ was made around care homes was a sickening lie. Now a court has found their decisions unlawful and it’s clear the decisions taken led to people dying who may otherwise still be with their loved ones today.

"We now need to see those responsible for those dark days held accountable and lessons learned to save lives, ensuring the grim scenes of Spring 2020 are never repeated again.”

In light of yesterday’s High Court ruling, BASW England now urges the Government to consider a pause and review of any forthcoming reforms relating to hospital discharge policies so that considerable scrutiny and consideration can be applied, in order to avoid any future tragedies.