This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
HEALTH unions slammed the Tories’ “callous disregard” for care home residents and staff today after judges ruled that discharging patients into social care settings early in the Covid-19 pandemic was unlawful.
The High Court ruled that the government policy, initially implemented without testing or suitable isolation arrangements in place, failed to consider the risk to elderly and vulnerable people from non-symptomatic transmission.
The danger had been highlighted by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance in a radio interview on March 13 2020 – 10 days before Britain’s first national lockdown.
The case against Public Health England and former health and social care secretary Matt Hancock was brought by two women who both lost fathers in care homes to the virus.
Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris condemned the policy and the “shocking death toll” it had caused, thought to number in the tens of thousands.
Speaking outside court, Dr Gardner said she "believed all along that my father and other residents of care homes were neglected and let down by the government.
"The High Court has now vindicated that belief, and our campaign to expose the truth," she added.
Her father, Michael Gibson, was 88 when he died on April 3 2020 while living in a care home in Oxfordshire.
His cause of death was given as “suspected Covid” after the home took in a infected patient discharged from hospital.
Ms Harris’s father, former Royal Marine Donald Harris, 89, died in Alton, Hampshire, on 1 May 2020 after an outbreak in his care home.
The judgement had brought “some comfort” after ministers had not been honest about “exposing many vulnerable people to a greater risk of death,” she charged.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeated his apologies for all deaths during the pandemic during Prime Minister’s Questions today, but both women called on him to resign.
In their judgement, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham found that policy decisions taken by Mr Hancock in spring 2020 and detailed in two documents – the March Discharge Policy and the April Admissions Guidance – were unlawful.
They said: “This was not a binary question – a choice between on the one hand doing nothing at all, and on the other hand requiring all newly admitted residents to be quarantined.
“The documents could, for example, have said that where an asymptomatic patient is admitted to a care home, he or she should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents.
“Since there is no evidence that this question was considered by [Mr Hancock], it is not an example of a political judgement on a finely balanced issue.”
They rejected other claims made under human rights legislation and against NHS England.
Rachel Harrison from health union GMB said the policy was “always going to have tragic consequences.
“If any good is to come out of this pandemic then it must include urgent reform of the sector.”
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea blasted Mr Hancock’s claim that he had put a “protective ring around care homes,” arguing the ruling suggested the exact opposite.
"Ministers should be hanging their heads in shame,” she said.
A government spokesperson claimed ministers sought to safeguard care home residents “based on the best information at the time,” but Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said ministers “cannot claim to have acted to save lives.
“They broke the law and people died. We owe it to bereaved families to make sure that this never happens again.”
A spokesman for Mr Hancock claimed the ruling “comprehensively clears ministers of any wrongdoing and finds he acted reasonably on all counts.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £10 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.