We Need the Facts to carry on the Fight
West Sussex County Council Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of a cover up of the number of patients with Covid-19 in Care and Nursing Homes, alongside the failure to include deaths from Covid-19 in these homes in the daily statistics.
Dr James Walsh, Vice-Chairman of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee at WSCC said:
“ In the initial rush to empty NHS hospitals of patients to make space for Coronavirus patients, elderly patients were discharged with no testing of their Covid-19 status to detect whether they were infected or had had the virus. Homes were advised to put patients in strict isolation, and some guidance was given as to the presumed status of the patient. This inevitably means that some patients will have taken the virus into care or nursing homes, with the risk of spread to staff, who may have had inadequate Personal Protective Equipment(PPE), and to other residents. This was the policy of government up until as recently as 16th April, when testing before discharge was introduced. This in itself is a shocking indictment of the “to little, too late” approach of Government to the pandemic.
In addition, the failure to include deaths from Covid-19 in care and nursing homes, or indeed their own homes, in the daily tally announced at Downing Street is artificially suppressing the full number of UK deaths, which is probably 4-5,000 higher that the reported figure”.
Dr Kate O’Kelly, a member of the committee said:
“The scandalous run down by Government of PPE stocks over the last four years, and the resultant massive shortage of supplies for hospitals, nursing and care homes, let alone for other essential workers, is also inevitably partly responsible for the increased numbers seen in this country. The fundamental public health principle of “test and trace” in an epidemic, adopted with great success in Germany, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, was ignored in this country, with mass testing only restarting at the end of last week, 3 months into the outbreak. The government must now ensure that testing and tracing is properly implemented, together with social distancing or we will run the risk of a second wave of the virus ( as occurred with deadly effect a century ago with the Spanish flu pandemic).”
Dr Walsh, who is also Leader of Arun District Council added:
“The public have very largely played their part in controlling and slowing the spread of the virus through observing the lockdown and social distancing, and it is up to Government to repay that trust by telling the truth about the true Covid-19 death rates, increasing PPE supplies, as well as improving the public testing and restarting contact tracing measures as rapidly as possible.”