Covid19 Care Home Crisis – Government warned of legal action

Daughter of deceased care home resident threatens legal action over Government’s polices that exposed residents to serious harm.

On 3rd April 2020 Michael Gibson died in a care home. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease but died of suspected COVID-19. Shortly before his death another resident had been accepted back into the care home from hospital after having tested positive for COVID-19.

Michael Gibson’s life and those of ten of thousands of other care home residents, as well as care workers and health workers, was put at significant risk because of policies and decisions taken by the Government. Many, like Mr Gibson, tragically lost their lives. Despite expert scientific advice, provided to the Government on 2nd March 2020 that it was “highly likely that there is a sustained transmission of COVID-19 in the UK at present “, care homes were told that there was no risk of transmission and advised to carry on as normal. It was not until 2nd April 2020 that care homes were advised to allow visitors in only exceptional circumstances.

Not only was a casual approach adopted towards protecting care home residents, but on 19th March 2020 NHS England instructed hospitals to discharge patients from hospital into care homes whether or not they had been tested for COVID-19. This brought a fatal disease into the homes of the most vulnerable in our society. In May 2020 the London School of Economics estimated that 22,000 residents of care homes had lost their lives to COVID-19.

Against this backdrop of pain and suffering experienced by the most vulnerable in care homes Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care stated on 15th May 2020 : “Right from the start its been clear that this horrible virus affects older people most. So right from the start we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes”.

Dr Cathy Gardner, Michael Gibson’s daughter has decided to take legal action against the Secretary of State for Health, NHS England and Public Health England. She does not believe that the comments of the Secretary of State bear any relation to the reality of Government policies and actions in relation to care homes during the pandemic. Furthermore she is seeking assurance that appropriate policies are put in place to protect residents in care homes and that Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock publicly accept responsibility for the mistakes that have been made. She said :

“ I am appalled that Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State, can give the impression that the Government has sought to cast a protective ring over elderly residents of care homes – and right from the start. The truth is that there has been at best a casual approach to protecting the residents of care homes; at worst the Government have adopted a policy that has caused the death of the most vulnerable in our society. It is completely unacceptable that this happened and that responsibility has been avoided. I have therefore instructed my lawyers to threaten legal proceedings against the Government for the harm that has been suffered by my father. “

Paul Conrathe, Human Rights Solicitor with Sinclairslaw said :

“ The State is under a duty to protect its citizens from harm. It is also under a duty to act fairly and not discriminate against the elderly and those with disabilities. The actions of the Secretary of State, NHS England and Public Health England in putting residents of care homes and care workers at risk of COVID-19 infection seriously violated the human rights of the most vulnerable in our society. I have therefore written to them requesting that they accept responsibility for their unlawful decisions and policies. If they fail to do so then my client will initiate proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review. “

In order to launch a legal challenge against the Government Cathy will need to raise funds. A crowd funding page has been set up on Crowd Justice.

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