Government says epidemic of Covid-19 in nursing homes is “very unlikely”, even though the number of cases reached 800

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The need for additional plans for nursing homes was raised during a discussion on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), which advises the government on pandemics. The June 2017 minutes setting out “lessons learned” from Operation Cygnus, a major intergovernmental test of its ability to cope with a severe pandemic, lists four “key issues”, including: “The need to build capacity peak and operational capacity in certain regions. If demand exceeds local supply, the response will need to be intensified, for example at the regional level. This was particularly true for excessive death, social care and the NHS. “

Liz Kendall, Minister of Alternative Care, said last week, “We have to provide alternative care. There is a real urgent need to examine any available capacity in facilities like Nightingale’s hospitals to see if they can care for residents.

“Nursing home staff are asked to do extraordinary things. They are very qualified – but we have to make sure that nursing homes are not turned into hospices because that is not why they are there. “

A Telegraph The investigation also found that while the government had plans in place to educate nursing homes on how to manage pandemics and influenza outbreaks, they were aimed at ensuring that the infection did not escape the homes – and no that she does not enter it.

One of these articles, “Guidelines for the Management of Influenza-like Illness Outbreaks in Nursing Homes,” published in 2018, states that “Nursing Homes… closings of new admissions can be considered for at least five days after beginning of the most recent case to avoid the risk of transmission ”.

But, he adds, the decision to reopen would depend on “the ease with which the home could maintain the isolation of these people while reopening to new admissions”, that is, to what extent it could contain the infection already present.

Other documents – including the “Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response for Health and Social Care” of 2012 – make it clear that at least some nursing homes would remain open to infected residents.

In a harbinger of the disaster still unfolding in the country, the same document also calls on nursing homes to ensure that they have plans in place to manage “additional deaths, including the storage of body if necessary ”.

Government preparations for a pandemic are also spending considerable time on what to do when demand for NHS resources exceeds supply, and there is an urgent need to free up capacity.

In the paragraphs that will make reading bitter for families whose loved ones are included in the number of deaths in nursing homes, Whitehall officials have attempted to define a framework to help doctors choose between patients.

Those who have been taken care of because of previous health problems – as is the case with many residents of nursing homes – inevitably come at the bottom of the list.

“The potential medical benefits for incoming patients should ideally outweigh the potential risks of not receiving care for outgoing patients,” says a 2009 “Peak Capacity” policy document in the event of a pandemic. “There must be a level of tolerance for the risk of a medical event following the exit. “

As it has now been shown with horrible determination, the ensuing “consecutive medical events” have ultimately affected a much larger pool of nursing home residents than those who have been discharged from hospital.

Experts commenting on CQC figures on Tuesday warned that – given the lag in data – the number of deaths from coronaviruses in nursing homes may already be higher than those in hospitals.

As the government prepares for next week’s tally, it will be under pressure to strengthen its defense. Hancock may emphasize that they have been a priority from the start, but for many families with relatives in nursing homes, it feels like they have been forgotten.

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