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Health official defends discharging patients into English care homes

Discharging patients into care homes in England in early April, when the number of coronavirus cases was rapidly increasing, was neither reckless nor wrong, the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) most senior civil servant has claimed.

Faced with aggressive questioning from MPs on the powerful public accounts committee on Monday, Sir Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the DHSC, said the guidance for discharge was correct based on the information available at the time.

Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said to Wormald: “You were discharging them from hospital into care homes when care homes were already in dire trouble, some of the most vulnerable people in society, the testing wasn’t available, PPE [personal protective equipment] wasn’t available, the training wasn’t available. Wasn’t this a pretty reckless policy by the government?”

Wormald replied: “We don’t believe that. Now, as Prof [Stephen] Powis [national medical director of NHS England] described, at this point Covid was not considered to be widespread in the community.”

A clearly frustrated Clifton-Brown interrupted him saying there were already 1,000 care homes with coronavirus cases at the beginning of April. He also questioned why detailed advice in relation to coronavirus for the social care sector had not been issued until 15 April, almost a month after the equivalent information was provided to the NHS.

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Source: The Guardian, 23 June 2020


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