Lord Bethell, the Department of Health and Social Care, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL6991):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic more than 4,000 people were discharged from hospital into care homes without being tested for the virus. (HL6991)
Tabled on: 20 July 2020
Throughout our COVID-19 response we have worked with the care sector and public health experts to put in place measures to reduce transmission and save lives. It has been our priority to ensure that everyone is discharged safely from hospital and to the most appropriate available place. Wherever possible, people who are clinically ready should be supported to return to their place of residence, where assessment of longer-term needs will take place. This approach follows the ‘Discharge to Assess’ model, to support timely and appropriate discharge from hospital.
The Hospital Discharge Service and staff should clarify with care homes the COVID-19 status of an individual and any COVID-19 symptoms, during the process of transfer from a hospital to the care home. As testing capacity was being built priority for testing was given to the most clinically vulnerable patients:
– all patients in critical care for pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or flu like illness;
– all other patients requiring admission to hospital for pneumonia, ARDS or flu like illness; and
– where an outbreak has occurred in a residential or care setting, for example long-term care facility or prisons.
As set out in the Adult Social Care Action Plan on 15 April, all patients are now required to be tested prior to discharge to a care home.
Date and time of answer: 10 Aug 2020 at 11:00.