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Covid: discharging untested patients into care homes was unlawful, says court

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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The government policy towards care homes in England at the start of the Covid pandemic has been ruled unlawful in the High Court. I

In their judgment, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham found that the decisions of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to make and maintain a series of policies contained in documents issued on 17 and 19 March and 2 April 2020 were unlawful because the drafters of those documents failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission, which had been highlighted by (among others) Sir Patrick Vallance in a radio interview as early as 13 March.

Non-symptomatic transmission would mean that one elderly patient moved from hospital to a care home could infect other residents before manifesting symptoms, or even without ever manifesting symptoms. The judges found that it was irrational for the DHSC not to have advised until mid-April 2020 that where an asymptomatic patient (other than one who had tested negative for COVID19) was admitted to a care home, he or she should, so far as practicable, be kept apart from other residents for 14 days.

The court dismissed the other aspects of the case brought by the Claimants, including claims under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and a claim against NHS England (which is legally distinct from the Secretary of State).

Judgment and summary are here Gardner & Harris -v- Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Guardian article here Covid: discharging untested patients into care homes was unlawful, says court