NHS Providers response to claims that NHS trusts knowingly discharged patients with COVID-19 to care homes
13 May 2020
Responding to claims that NHS trusts knowingly discharged patients with covid-19 to care homes, NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said:
"It is categorically not true to say that NHS trusts systematically discharged patients they knew or suspected had COVID-19 into care homes.
"The NHS did discharge significant numbers of medically fit patients to create capacity to treat expected COVID-19 patients but this was before the virus had spread and only 1 in 20 patients discharged from hospital went to a care home for the first time.
"The latest data shows that there was, in fact, a 40% drop in the number of NHS patients discharged into care homes in February to mid-April (the latest data available) compared to January.
It is categorically not true to say that NHS trusts systematically discharged patients they knew or suspected had COVID-19 into care homes.
"Trust chief executives tell us that as soon as COVID-19 spread, they ensured that all patients with definite or suspected COVID-19 symptoms were isolated either in hospital or in NHS intermediate or step down community services until they were safe to discharge.
"Trusts invested considerable time and effort into protecting care homes in this way and deeply resent the suggestion that they would knowingly discharge a covid or suspected covid patient into a care home setting.
"On patients without symptoms, rapid turnaround testing is the only way of definitively identifying whether a patient has COVID-19 or not.
"It is only since mid-April that sufficient testing has been available to conduct these tests consistently. It was therefore only on 15 April that trusts were asked to systematically test every single patient due for discharge to social care.
"So it is possible that a very small number of asymptomatic covid-19 patients, who trusts were unable to test prior to that date, were discharged to social care.
"But that is completely different to stating that the NHS was systematically discharging known or suspected COVID-19 patients and this cannot have been the cause of the high number of deaths in the care sector.
"The scandal here is the repeated failure of politicians to solve our long running social care crisis. And any public inquiry will need to look at the role that the lack of testing capacity and PPE has played in the high number of care home deaths".