Nursing homes are openly rebelling against the government’s “reckless, dangerous and immoral” request to accept suspected coronavirus patients.
The bosses are defying instructions from the Ministry of Health that they must take elderly patients who have been discharged from the hospital to help free beds for critically ill patients.
The guidelines indicated that some of these patients may have Covid-19, whether or not they have symptoms, and that negative tests were not required before transfers to the homes.
The coronavirus has already destroyed nursing homes across the country, killing dozens of vulnerable residents, with the Alzheimer Society warning that at least half are reporting cases.
The bosses are defying instructions from the Ministry of Health that they must take elderly patients who have been discharged from the hospital to help free beds for critically ill patients. Stock Image
But ministers have been charged with “crimes against the elderly” for refusing nursing home coronavirus tests – which makes epidemics extremely difficult – and thousands of dementia patients are at risk of being “abandoned” At the disease, the Alzheimer Society warned. The government is also facing requests to publish daily figures for coronavirus nursing home deaths, according to allegations that there may be hundreds more deaths than official statistics show.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has committed to reviewing the formal rules that govern how patients are transferred between hospitals and nursing homes.
“I can’t sleep at night”: the director of a nursing home worries about the lack of protective equipment
Nursing home manager Nicola Rowland said that she could not sleep at night due to concerns about securing PPE.
The Park Manor residential home in Ipswich has received a single shipment of face masks from the government, but is no longer receiving direct supplies of gloves, aprons and masks.
Miss Rowland said that she had spent hours browsing the Internet to find items, but that she complained that the prices were “exorbitant”.
Last Wednesday, Suffolk County Council received PPE from the government and stocks were sent to the care sector.
But a spokesman for the council said he should prioritize the protection of “front line workers”.
The Ministry of Health claims to have delivered 7.8 million PPE products to more than 26,000 healthcare providers.
But Rachel Beckett, president of Wellburn Care Homes, said they were already facing a “plight” even before the “dangerous and morally bad” government took untested hospital patients.
“I am sure you would be hard pressed to find a healthcare provider in the UK who is comfortable with this outrageous and reckless request,” she said.
“I have a duty of care to my residents, their loved ones and my staff. How can I, in good conscience, admit a patient to one of our homes, when we don’t know if he has Covid-19 or not? “
Miss Beckett refuses to admit new residents until they have tested negative for the virus. She said, “Waiting for us to follow these instructions is like playing Russian roulette with the lives of our most vulnerable.”
Andy Geach, director of the Shedfield Lodge nursing home in Hampshire, also refuses to accept patients under these circumstances.
He said: “It is very frustrating because we really want to help free up hospital beds. “All we ask for is a hospital discharge test, so we would be happy to help, but without that we cannot do it because we have a duty of care to all other residents and the staff. This is a major problem. “
It is already known that nearly 100 residents of nursing homes died from the coronavirus, but the true figure is unknown as the daily figures released by Public Health England relate only to deaths in NHS hospitals. Government advice also indicates that new, untested residents can be admitted from their own homes even if they have symptoms of the disease.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock (photo) has committed to reviewing the formal rules that govern how patients are transferred between hospitals and care homes.
Jayne Connery, who heads Care Campaign for the Vulnerable, said, “We get calls from families who are outside of them. They are told that they cannot go to their loved ones with dementia even if they are wearing full safety gear and yet, at the same time, homes are welcoming patients with Covid-19. “
At the government’s daily press conference yesterday, Hancock promised that testing would increase. He said, “Last week we were able to open the tests for nursing home staff. Throughout this there was the availability of clinical testing in nursing homes. “
He added, “By making sure to expand this testing capacity for both staff and residents – including this very difficult problem of patients leaving hospital – we are tackling this. “