Care leaders have responded to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s evidence to the Joint Committee of Health and Social Care and Science and Technology yesterday.
During a grilling from MPs, Matt Hancock denied allegations from the PM’s former chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, he had promised all hospital discharges to care homes would be tested for COVID-19.
Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, called on the committee to reject the findings of the recently published Public Health England (PHE) report on the relation between the number of outbreaks and deaths and hospital discharge.
Vic said the PHE data, which was quoted by Mr Hancock during his evidence, represented “an incredibly partial representation of the situation within care homes”.
The CEO repeated her call for independent analysis into the effect of hospital discharges on care homes, adding: “It is not possible for this data to tell you anything meaningful about the situation that care home residents and staff were facing in March and April 2020 except that it does show that hospital based infections were brought into care homes as a result of the discharge.”
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, said: “We will never know what proportion of COVID-19 cases in care homes were from discharged patients because, again, the government doesn’t have the data and that is frightening.”
Mike said the priority should be for the government to set a date for “root and branch” reform that will merge the delivery of NHS and social care services.
Contrary to many of his peers, however, Tony Stein, CEO of Healthcare Management Solutions, quoted a report by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow that concluded there was no statistical link between discharges and outbreaks, arguing the most significant link instead was related to the size of a care home.
Tony also rejected the argument that operators were forced to take untested discharges.
“There is no evidence that I’m aware of that any operator was forced to accept residents and remember, the registered provider must determine whether they have the ability to properly care for a resident before they accept them,” Tony commented.
“If care home owners are genuinely implying that they thought accepting untested discharges into their services was high risk ,why did they choose to do this in breach of their duty?”
The CEO said the real issue needing to be addressed was the proper funding of social care.