In the end, after their evidence is presented, what the Sunday Post has is this:
- Some patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 were transferred into care homes but we do not know how many, if any, were still infectious.
- Some care homes may not have implemented the infection control measures required even though they would have been expected to do so for flu or Norovirus in previous years.
- The possibility but no proof that any discharged patient was the source of an actual outbreak in a care home.
Weighing against this lightweight evidence, we have an emerging but substantial body of evidence that care home outbreaks were triggered by agency staff working in more than one home and often forced to work when they had symptoms:
- The charitable MHA with a presence in Scotland did research into its own homes and discovered this: Large numbers of staff could have been unknowingly spreading coronavirus through care homes, according to the UK’s largest charitable care home provider. Data from MHA shows 42% of its staff members who recently tested positive were not displaying symptoms. Nearly 45% of residents who had a positive test were also asymptomatic. The MHA Chief Executive said: I think it’s very difficult not to see that the only real way that this can have come into our homes is through staff picking it up, just through the community contacts they would have had. I think that is what is so hard for all our staff, because they care. But if they don’t know they’ve contracted the virus, how can you manage this? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52912538
- We know from BBC Scotland’s own report that the Skye care home outbreak was associated with ‘a large dependency on agency staff‘: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-52546673
- Former BBC Scotland Head of News, John Boothman, now at the Times, wrote: HC-One, Britain’s largest care home chain and the operator of Home Farm, faces allegations that it paid insufficient heed to the [Scottish] government’s lockdown by parachuting workers in from as far away as Kent, 645 miles away, to plug staff shortages in a sector where pay is notoriously poor. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-kills-six-and-leaves-dozens-seriously-ill-at-skye-care-home-3g70vxbf6
- An ONS study of 9 081 care homes in England found this: These emerging findings reveal some common factors in care homes with higher levels of infections amongst residents.These include prevalence of infection in staff, some care home practices such as more frequent use of bank or agency nurses or carers, and some regional differences (such as higher infection levels within care homes in London and the West Midlands). There is some evidence that in care homes where staff receive sick pay, there are lower levels of infection in residents. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/impactofcoronavirusincarehomesinenglandvivaldi/26mayto19june2020#main-points