UK authorities ignored risk of placing elderly patients in nursing homes, judges say
British health authorities broke the law by overlooking the risk of placing untested elderly patients in care homes during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the High Court ruled on Wednesday.
Two women – Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, who lost their fathers to the virus in early 2020 – sued then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Public Health England over how the initial outbreak of Covid-19 had been managed.
Despite rejecting their other claims, the judges sided with the plaintiffs, who questioned government guidance on the use of care homes at the start of the UK outbreak.
Last month, the lawyer representing Gardner and Harris said those orders had contributed to the deaths of some 20,000 patients in England and Wales between March and June 2020. “Taken together, the different policies were a recipe for disaster and disaster is what happened,” he explained.
In their decision on Wednesday, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham found that documents issued by health authorities in March and early April 2020 were unlawful and “irrational” for failing to consider the danger of non-symptomatic transmission of the virus to the elderly and vulnerable.
There was already “Growing Awareness” on the possibility of asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus at that time, but there was no evidence that Hancock addressed these risks in relation to care home services in any way, according to the judges. .
The government could have told asymptomatic patients to quarantine for 14 days to prevent further spread of the virus, they pointed out.
But it wasn’t done like the “the writers of the March 17 and April 2 documents simply failed to take into account the very relevant consideration of the risk of asymptomatic transmission for elderly and vulnerable residents,” the decision read.
The judges said health authorities did not address the issue of non-symptomatic transmission until mid-April 2020.
Hancock’s spokesman reacted to the decision saying the then Health Secretary acted reasonably, but Public Health England had ‘did not tell ministers what they knew about asymptomatic transmission’ of the coronavirus.
“Mr Hancock has often said that he wished this had come to his attention sooner,” insisted the spokesman.
Hancock resigned as Health Secretary in June 2021, following a scandal that saw him caught kissing an aide in his Whitehall office in breach of social distancing rules.
Speaking outside the court, Fay Harris called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to step down following his government’s decision. “reckless and illegal” Strategies.
“Their actions put many vulnerable people at greater risk of death – and many thousands died,” said the complainant, also accusing the British authorities of dishonesty and refusing to acknowledge their mistakes.
You can share this story on social media: