Decisions taken by Government led to the violation of the human rights of older people during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty International has said.
A report by the human rights group said older people’s right to life, right to health and right of non-discrimination were violated during the pandemic.
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said: “The Government made a series of shockingly irresponsible decisions which abandoned care home residents to die.
“Discharged without being tested, thousands of older people were sent to care homes at great risk to themselves and other residents and to staff.
“The appalling death toll was entirely avoidable – it is a scandal of monumental proportions.
“As the country faces a second wave of coronavirus, we urgently need a full independent public inquiry into the care home scandal, so that lessons can be learned and lives protected, before any more lives are lost.”
The human rights group said care home residents in England had been effectively abandoned in the early stages of the pandemic.
The report highlights the 28,186 ‘excess deaths’ in care homes between 2 March and 12 June with over 18,500 residents dying with COVID-19 during the period.
Amnesty also notes the discharge of 25,000 patients from hospitals into care homes, including those infected with COVID-19, on 17 March.
The campaign group focuses on how the Government reiterated its guidance that ‘negative tests are not required prior to transfers/admissions into the care home’ despite the WHO having confirmed the existence of pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases on 2 April.
Further key Government failings listed in the report include the issuing of blanket Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) orders, refused access to hospitals, inadequate access to testing, insufficient PPE and the devastating impact of prolonged isolation.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it was “completely unacceptable” to apply blanket DNARs and had taken “consistent action” to stop this happening.
A spokesperson added: “From the start of the pandemic we have been doing everything we can to ensure care home residents and staff are protected.
“This includes testing all residents and staff, providing over 228 million items of PPE, ring-fencing over £1.1bn to prevent infections in care homes and making a further £3.7bn available to councils to address pressures caused by the pandemic – including in adult social care.”