A letter from NHS Providers to the prime minister and the leader of the opposition


Dear Prime Minister and Sir Keir,

For two successive weeks now, prime minister's questions has focused on the death toll COVID-19 has inflicted on care homes across the country. Amid accusation and counter accusation over who is responsible, the NHS frontline has been unfairly dragged into a political blame game.

Amid accusation and counter accusation over who is responsible, the NHS frontline has been unfairly dragged into a political blame game.

   


As the representative body for the 217 trusts across England, we agree that there needs to be a full and open debate about the impact of COVID-19 on the social care sector. But to hear politicians repeatedly suggest, or imply, that the NHS knowingly and systematically discharged COVID-19 and suspected COVID-19 patients into social care settings is damaging and simply not true.

As our latest briefing shows, trust leaders and their clinical teams have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic, providing high quality care to their patients. They discharged patients to care homes and other settings in line with government policy, carefully managing the clinical risk involved. They have worked incredibly hard to support their social care colleagues. To suggest trust leaders or clinicians were willing deliberately to raise the risk to patients and care home residents and staff in breach of discharge guidelines, appears disingenuous and risks being seen as an attempt to deflect attention away from legitimate questions over whether the social care sector was adequately supported to deal with the pandemic.

 

To suggest trust leaders or clinicians were willing deliberately to raise the risk to patients and care home residents and staff in breach of discharge guidelines, appears disingenuous and risks being seen as an attempt to deflect attention away from legitimate questions over whether the social care sector was adequately supported to deal with the pandemic.

   


The NHS must not become the scapegoat for the wider failings over the transmission of COVID-19 into care homes. Nor should the NHS be held responsible for the serious failure of successive governments over two decades to meet their repeated commitments to solve the long running crisis in social care.

At a time when public confidence in the NHS is of critical importance, we are urging politicians to be mindful of the effect their words have on the wider population. Suggesting NHS trusts knowingly or systematically discharged patients with COVID-19 into care homes, increasing the number of care home deaths, is not true. We will be releasing a copy of this letter to the media.

We remain, as ever, committed to an open dialogue with you both.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Hopson and Saffron Cordery

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