The Health and Social Care Committee is a cross party body of Westminster MPs that scrutinises the work of the Department of Health and Social Care and associated bodies. It is presently dealing with several Inquiries concerning the Covid19. One its Inquiries is looking at the management of the Coronavirus outbreak. This week it heard evidence from Hong Kong and Germany as to how these countries have managed to prevent the spread of Covid19 in care homes.
The Inquiry heard from Professor Lum, the head of Social Care at Hong Kong University and Isabell Halletz, the CEO of a German employers association for care homes. Both gave evidence as to the strict regime put in place in respect of patients being discharged from hospitals to care homes, whereby such patients would require a negative test for Covid19 before they could be admitted to a care home. Any persons diagnosed with Covid19 would be quarantined, as well as other people they have come into contact with. In contrast the Department of Health and Social Care until very recently stated in official guidance that a negative test for Covid19 was not required prior to admission to a care home.
This approach has meant a very low incidence of Covid19 in Hong Kong and Germany. Hong Kong has not recorded any deaths in care homes as a result of Covid19 and Germany has recorded fewer than 3,000 care home deaths. Meanwhile in the UK, recent estimates put the death toll as a result of Covid19 in care homes at more than 22,000.
The long term effect of Covid19 on claims against care home operators remains to be seen, but we would hope that lessons will be learned by the UK government and social care bodies from Inquiries such as this.
Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM