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Last month, the High Court ruled that allowing patients to be discharged from hospitals into care homes at the start of the Covid pandemic was unlawful.
As the Covid pandemic worsened in March and April 2020, the Government told hospitals in England and Wales to discharge patients into care homes to free up beds and resources for Covid patients. However, until 15 April 2020, there was no requirement for people arriving in care homes to be tested for Covid or isolated from other care home residents.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, claimed there was a ‘protective ring’ around care homes. Despite this claim, according to news reports, an estimated 20,000 care home residents died of Covid between March and June 2020.
Legal action against the Government
Legal action has been taken against the former Health Secretary and Public Health England (PHE) by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers died of Covid in care homes. They claim the Government’s decisions were the opposite of a ‘protective ring’ and meant that Covid-19 spread among vulnerable people in care homes where they should have been kept safe.
Jason Coppel QC, representing Dr. Gardner and Ms. Fay, claims the failure to protect care home residents is “one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures in the modern era.”
The High Court ruling
The High Court ruling came after a 22-month long legal challenge. The judges, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham said the danger of asymptomatic Covid-19 (no symptoms) was not considered, even though scientific advisors were aware of its presence. They criticised the Government’s lack of clear action for protecting care home residents, especially the failure to advise on Covid-19 testing and isolation for care home residents returning from the hospital.
The impact of the ruling on compensation claims
“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused terrible suffering. And for those families who thought their loved ones would be kept safe in their care homes, it has brought untold anguish and intense grief.
“It’s clear the Government’s unlawful decisions and lack of clear guidelines and better protection led to the tragic deaths of people who may otherwise still be with their families today.
“The ruling may open the door to potential legal claims, with bereaved families considering whether they should seek financial compensation for the loss of their relative.
“At Novum Law, we have lots of experience making fatal claims on behalf of bereaved family members, and we will do everything we can to support those who seek our help in this matter.”
If you or a family member has been affected by failures in the duty of care to protect those vulnerable to Covid-19, Novum Law’s specialist team of medical negligence solicitors may be able to help on a No Win No Fee basis. To book a free, no-obligation chat with us, call 0800 884 0777, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online enquiry form.