Judges said the Tory government failed to consider the risks of asymptomatic transmission when it allowed hospital patients to be discharged into care homes
Video not available
Boris Johnson’s government could be forced to pay grieving families £200million over Covid deaths in care homes in Britain’s biggest class-action lawsuit ever.
A court ruled this week that the Tories’ reckless policy of moving 25,000 hospital patients from wards to homes without first testing them for the virus was unlawful.
Judges said the government failed to consider the risks of asymptomatic transmission.
Her ruling shattered then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s claim that ministers had put a “ring of protection” around care homes.
Now legal experts say the families of those who died as a result could each win a five-figure negligence payout.
And they say the Department of Health and Human Services may face defending itself against corporate homicide lawsuits.
Wes Streeting, Labor shadow health secretary, said: “It is impossible to know the number of lives lost as a result. The government cannot claim that it was not warned at the time.
“And they cannot now claim that they acted to save lives. They broke the law and people died.”
The policy continued until a sudden rule change on April 15, 2020.
However, the scientific advisory group SAGE had warned in early February that “asymptomatic transmission cannot be ruled out”. And the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, mentioned the problem as early as March 13, a month before the rule was changed.
But the Supreme Court found no evidence the government had considered those risks, a catastrophic failure that contributed to more than 20,000 deaths in care homes.
Human rights lawyer Emma Jones of Leigh Day law firm said the government could face the largest class action lawsuit of its kind.
She said: “This finding that the policy was ‘unlawful’ supports our investigation into whether it is possible for families to sue the government for negligence.
“We are now investigating whether there may be a claim or case on behalf of people’s loved ones.
“This will involve an investigation into any case. That’s important, because for families, it’s not about money, it’s about answers. It could lead to one of the first and largest class action lawsuits of its kind.”
Mr Hancock has been accused of “categorically” telling Prime Minister Boris Johnson in March 2020 that hospital patients would be tested before being transferred to care homes.
However, no such policy was introduced until the Prime Minister returned from his own battle with Covid and reportedly asked Mr Hancock: “What the hell happened?”
Mr Hancock last year denied having misled the Prime Minister, saying “it was not possible” to test all patients on discharge.
SARAH LUCY BROWN/ARCHANT)
SARAH LUCY BROWN/ARCHANT)
World War II hero Charles Wright, 99 – who fought behind enemy lines and spent 18 months in a POW camp – died in a nursing home on April 17, 2020. His son Clive has not been able to see his “amazing” father in his last six weeks, having no idea he had the virus.
The family believe he may have contracted Covid in hospital before being sent back to a care home in Ipswich, Suffolk, untested. Clive said: “People like my father were left to die.
“If he had had Covid the best thing for him would have been to stay in hospital. Instead, he was sent to a nursing home and nobody was the wiser.”
Care home boss David Crabtree says he was threatened when he tried to refuse to admit untested hospital patients – and saw eight residents die.
Mr Crabtree, 68, from West Yorks, said: “I don’t think for a second they didn’t know. Maybe older people were seen as expendable.”
To deflect blame, Mr Johnson told MPs this week: “What we didn’t know was that Covid could be transmitted as asymptomatic as it was. I wish we had known more about it at the time.” And a spokesman for Mr Hancock said of the ruling: “The court also found that Public Health England had not told ministers what they knew about asymptomatic transmission.”
Minutes of SAGE’s second meeting on Covid on January 28 read: “Early signs point to some [asymptomatic transmission] happens”.
Top QC Alex Bailin said: “Corporate manslaughter liability is a real possibility when it can be shown that the risk of death was negligently disregarded.”
- About 2.87 million people had Covid in the week ended April 23, a 24% weekly drop – the biggest since July 2020.
Wes Streeting, writing for the Sunday Mirror, says Boris Johnson is too busy dodging blame to face facts
Boris Johnson likes to claim he’s making the big calls right.
AFP via Getty Images)
In the first months of the pandemic, the Prime Minister decided to release hospitalized patients to care homes without testing them for Covid.
This exposed the most vulnerable in our country to a deadly virus. It has cost lives.
This week the Supreme Court ruled that the directive was unlawful.
The verdict will be Dr. Bringing a measure of justice to Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, who took the government to court after the loss of their fathers.
Typically, Boris Johnson still refuses to take responsibility.
He only offers excuses and claims no one knew Covid could be passed on by people not showing symptoms. It’s just not true.
SAGE, the government’s independent scientific advisors, reported on January 28, 2020 evidence that Covid could be transmitted asymptomatically.
On March 16th I took evidence from Professor Anthony Costello of UCL directly to Matt Hancock in the House of Commons.
It took a month for the government to change course.
Ministers ignored the alarm bells that were ringing across the country.
The Sunday People was the first to report on the Covid time bomb in social care.
In the end, 25,000 hospitalized patients were sent to nursing homes untested. It is impossible to know the number of lives lost as a result.
The government cannot claim that it was not warned at the time. And they cannot now claim that they acted to save lives. They broke the law and people died.
We owe it to families to ensure this never happens again.
Conservatives are too busy watching their backs to learn from their mistakes.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/family-victims-tory-covid-care-26840876 Family of victims of Tory Covid care home bug could be priced at £200million