In the Herald today:
The move to discharge hundreds of elderly patients from hospital into care homes during the coronavirus pandemic may have breached the law, the Herald can reveal. Both the Law Society of Scotland and Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Mental Health and Capacity Law have highlighted concerns that adults who have ‘capacity’ issues such as mental illness, learning disability and dementia may have been discharged or moved “without due legal process”. Concerns in part surround whether account is taken of the wishes of the patient or family. The legal experts have been joined by the Scottish Human Rights Commission in calling for an independent monitoring or review of the discharges.
All very academic and esteemed on the surface but drooling in the wings, waiting for the report’s findings, there will be a bunch of expensive lawyers, close to the opposition parties, keen to persuade the gullible relatives that they might be able embarrass the Scottish Government and make enough money to pay off their fees.
It’s a non-starter because they’d have to begin by demonstrating at least a shred of plausibility in their case that the discharges were responsible for:
seeding Covid throughout Scotland’s network of over 1000 care homes, and exposing elderly and vulnerable residents to the disease.
There is no empirical evidence published anywhere, certainly in Scotland, that this would stand up in court.
There is evidence that Covid was actually seeded throughout the network of care homes by agency staff:
- 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
- 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
There is also evidence that: deaths in the care home sector are the result of the policies of previous governments (casualised, low paid staff), rather than badly handled short term interventions by the current government, for example rapidly discharging potentially infectious patients from NHS hospitals into care homes:
The root cause of excess covid infections in the care home sector: 30 years of market driven policies
Here’s an idea. Why not investigate the care home owners, private individuals or corporations?