Il virus è stato spinto nelle case di cura in previsione di un'ondata ospedaliera che non è mai avvenuta.
La politica del governo ha ucciso le persone? Il più delle volte, viene
presa in considerazione una sola politica: abbiamo bloccato abbastanza
presto o in modo abbastanza deciso da salvare vite umane? Ma la
politica del governo sulle case di cura è probabilmente molto più
Health secretary Matt Hancock insists that protecting care homes has
always been a top priority for the government. ‘Right from the start, we
have tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes’, he said
at one of last week’s press conferences. Prime minister Boris Johnson made a similar claim in parliament last week: ‘We brought in the lockdown in care homes ahead of the general lockdown.’
It is now abundantly clear that the opposite was true. Contrary to Johnson’s claim, there were no mandatory restrictions
on care homes prior to the general lockdown. Indeed, until 12 March, 11
days before the lockdown, Public Health England’s advice was still that
‘it remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home
will become infected’.
Worse still, as I reported on spiked last month, rather than protecting care homes from the virus, government policy unwittingly promoted its spread.
One of the key justifications for the lockdown was to ‘Protect the
NHS’. Officials feared that the NHS could have been so overrun during
the pandemic that it would have collapsed. This would, of course, have
been a catastrophe, causing needless deaths. To help prevent this, the
NHS exhorted the care sector to play a role in shielding hospitals.
An NHS plan in early March called for the ‘timely discharge’ of
patients to free up capacity. Guidance from the Department of Health,
issued on 2 April, reiterated this: ‘Hospitals around the country need
as many beds as possible to support and treat an increasing number of
Covid-19 cases. This means the NHS will seek to discharge more patients
into care homes for the recovery period.’
Hospitals were ordered to clear thousands of beds in anticipation of a
surge in Covid cases. Many patients were sent into care homes. And it
is now clear that some of those patients had Covid-19. The 2 April
guidance provides the smoking gun: ‘Negative tests are not required
prior to transfers / admissions into the care home.’
On top of that, pressure on care homes to take in Covid-19 patients also came from local authorities. According to a Sky News investigation, several councils threatened to withhold funding to care homes if they refused.
Overall, according to a Sky News survey of 90 care homes, 70 per cent
of care homes said they felt pressure from hospitals to accept
coronavirus patients, 41 per cent said they took in patients with Covid
symptoms, and 38 per cent said they believed a Covid-positive patient
discharged from hospital caused an outbreak in their home.
This is all despite the fact that care homes hosted the group of
people who were by far the most vulnerable to Covid-19. To make matters
worse, care homes were also far less prepared for the outbreak than
hospitals. An owner of a care-home chain, writing anonymously in The Times,
says that two of his or her care homes became infected with Covid-19
which can be traced back to hospital discharges. Once patients were in
care homes, the NHS was no longer interested in helping them. The owner
received a letter on 13 March which said, ‘If any of our residents got
significantly ill, they wouldn’t be allowed into hospital and would have
to die in their home’.
Staff were neglected, too. Testing has been shambolic. Even carers
with Covid symptoms have struggled to get tested. Results can take nine
days to arrive. PPE was also a huge problem initially. The care-home
owner writing in The Times claims that supplies were
commandeered by the NHS in early March. This neglect has clearly taken
its toll. ONS figures show that care staff have been far more likely to die of Covid-19 than regular healthcare workers.
All along, the justification for pushing the crisis into care homes
was to prevent the NHS from being overrun. But we can now see that there
was no danger of this happening.
Around the peak of hospital cases on 10 April, only 51 per cent
of the NHS’s acute beds were occupied by a Covid patient. Around the
same time, 41 per cent of acute beds were not occupied at all – more
than four times the normal number. The emergency Nightingale hospitals
have also been largely empty. The Nightingale in London’s Excel Centre,
which had space for 4,000 beds, only treated 51 patients in its first
three weeks of operation. It was closed at the beginning of May.
As Professor Carl Henegan, director of Oxford University’s Centre for
Evidence-Based Medicine, has argued, the fact that Covid cases and
deaths peaked in early April suggests that the number of people getting
infected peaked before the lockdown was introduced on 23 March.
In other words, putting the public under house arrest and wrecking the economy – which has also contributed to thousands of unnecessary deaths
– was never necessary to ‘Protect the NHS’ in any case. But by the time
the lockdown was introduced, the government was convinced that the NHS
faced a tsunami of Covid cases. The infamous Imperial College model
predicted 500,000 deaths from an unmitigated epidemic. Fear and panic
drove the decision-making. And those decisions cost lives.
Shockingly, the UK government was not alone in pushing the crisis
into care homes. In New York, the centre of the world’s worst outbreak,
it is a similar story. Care homes were not only neglected
for PPE and testing, but were also ordered to take in Covid patients.
Homes could be fined $10,000 or lose their operating licence if they
refused to comply with the rules. In Lombardy, the hardest-hit region of
Italy, care homes were paid extra to take in Covid patients from hospitals.
The carnage in care homes ought to be the biggest scandal of the Covid crisis.