Britain’s largest healthcare providers have been denied coronavirus testing even though the disease ravaged some of their homes, it appeared last night.
Three large nursing home companies told the Mail that no staff or residents have been tested despite a series of deaths from suspected epidemics.
One boss said it was “almost impossible” to follow official advice and isolate the victims without knowing who was infected.
There have been at least 40 virus-related deaths in UK retirement homes, but lack of testing means experts cannot know the real scale of the crisis or the number of residents and workers already with the disease.
Britain’s largest healthcare providers have been denied coronavirus tests even though the disease ravaged some of their homes, it appeared last night (stock image)
A social worker explained how staff lived in fear of catching the virus and passing it on to family or loved ones.
The mother of three, who works in a home for people with dementia, said, “None of us have been tested and we have very little access to protective equipment.
“We are like cannon fodder. We and our loved ones are put at risk for £ 8.37 an hour.
Don’t Criticize Die At Home Advice For Seniors, Tories Said
Controversy: Morecambe GP Andy Knox
Conservative MPs have been told not to criticize doctors who advise seniors to die better at home than to go to hospital if they get coronavirus.
He came amid allegations that residents of some nursing homes were asked to sign “do not resuscitate” forms in the event of Covid-19 disease.
Many doctors have intensified their palliative care plans for terminally ill patients in order to prepare for the peak of the virus in the coming weeks.
But some Conservative MPs say it will unnecessarily scare the elderly and those “at high risk” of the disease.
They say the approach is motivated in part by the shortage of intensive care hospital beds.
The Daily Mail understands that the government supports a campaign by the British Medical Association to make general practitioners “direct” and have “difficult conversations” with the elderly if the death toll continues to rise.
But some Conservatives have questioned the plan.
An MP said, “If the government thinks it is okay for seniors to be forced to die at home instead of being kept alive, they should say so publicly.”
The disclosure came amid fears that the NHS would not be able to treat everyone affected by the virus, with the death toll rising to more than 4,000 yesterday.
Those most at risk will be asked to make a coronavirus emergency plan, indicating in advance if they want to be ventilated or resuscitated if they have heart failure.
A Whitehall source said the Mail ministers were “ready to support the BMA approach.”
However, some MPs and religious groups say the advice is akin to aid in dying – currently illegal in Britain – and worried about the implications of its widespread use.
The controversy surfaced last week when the Mail reported how Lancashire doctor Andy Knox made a film asking high-risk patients if they wanted to refuse hospital treatment for the coronavirus and die at home.
By Simon Walters
A boss of the group said that the general practitioners had stopped visiting nursing homes, adding, “You feel completely abandoned. “
Government directives released last week indicated that it “would aim to provide more comprehensive testing” to the sector when “capacity increases.”
But some large healthcare chains say they haven’t had a single test, with staff simply advised to isolate suspected cases at home.
The FSHC manages more than 200 homes, but has not been tested for residents or staff, none in a single home, Burlington House in Glasgow, where 13 residents died of a suspected epidemic in just one week.
Half of its 13,000 employees are self-isolating and two have tested positive at the hospital.
The MHA, which manages 222 sites, has killed nine at Covid-19.
None of its 6,000 residents or 8,000 employees have been tested. More than one in ten employees are in segregation.
Colten Care, which has 21 nursing homes in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Sussex, has admitted three residents to the hospital for other health reasons.
While in hospital, however, they tested positive for Covid-19 and died, although their deaths do not appear to have been linked to the coronavirus.
The group still does not have access to tests from staff or other residents.
Staff at the Shedfield Lodge residential care home in Southampton sleep in caravans outside to protect their families after the death of a resident from coronavirus. They have not been tested.
HC-One, the UK’s largest group of nursing homes, said none of the staff at its 320 homes had been tested.
Bupa Care Homes, which operates more than 120 sites, said no staff had access to the tests. Government guidelines also state that if there is an epidemic in a home, a maximum of five residents can be tested.
Rachel Beckett, president of the Wellburn group, which has 14 homes in the Northeast, said it was “ridiculous,” adding, “The advice from government and regulators has been a disgrace.”
Peter Kyle, MP for Hove, said, “It looks like the entire health care system is swept under the rug. How is it that the most vulnerable ended up at the bottom of the heap?
Gavin Edwards of the Unison union said the infected nursing homes were “the canaries of the mine”. But Dr. Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer of health for England, insisted last night that tests in epidemics in nursing homes “are happening now.”
She added, “They’re already on the priority list, so the regularly tested groups – and we’ve been around this for a long time – have included potential outbreaks in nursing homes. This has been happening from the start.