Although there are 235 deaths listing COVID 19 registered in Hertfordshire between 10th April and 15th May according the Office of National Statistics, Herts Liberal Democrats have calculated that as many as 500 deaths are likely to have occurred according to figures that the County Council has collected from care homes. The Liberal Democrats have also raised concerns that a far higher number of deaths have occurred in care homes in Watford and Hertsmere than in other districts.
Adult Care Health Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, County Cllr Ron Tindall added. "We are concerned that the policy choices by Government, which may well have contributed to deaths, through the discharge of COVID positive patients to care home settings which could not cope with the infection control. County council staff have also confirmed that due to the lack of testing they cannot be certain that asymptomatic patients were not admitted to care homes without proper isolation measures. "
"Hertfordshire Council officers have confirmed that the NHS discharged COVID positive patients to care home settings where 'isolation' is possible, but evidence that care homes were unable to adequately isolate discharged residents is building, suggesting that such discharges may have led to care home outbreaks and unnecessary and preventable deaths." said Cllr Ron Tindall.
"I and my colleagues are concerned as we are across the country that the government acted too late and without taking on board the concerns of those in the care sector. This whole process needs a review and investigation once the COVID 19 crisis is under control. Lessons must be learned. It does on the face it seem that in the desperate rush to free up beds in hospitals, patients who may have had COVID 19 were discharged to care homes with no testing and inadequate infection control. "
"The County Council itself purchased 250 care places to help with this at some considerable cost. It does seem that at the last minute the government panicked instead of fully planning. Hence we have the rush build of the Nightingale Hospital that was never really used. Instead, the elderly and vulnerable were shoved into a care home setting, where due to no fault of their own, they just could not manage. We have all heard of the shortages of PPE and vital equipment in our care homes."
"Guidance from Government on care home visits and how to treat those who had been in contact with COVID positive patients was not modified until 13th March, leading to very significant risk of transmission in care home settings. Further changes have improved the situation but until the government has introduced a comprehensive testing regime, discharge outcomes cannot be certain."
"From the information and reports we have seen lead us to believe hundreds of deaths may have occurred in care homes in our County which may have been preventable. It was clearly wrong to accept any hospital discharges to care homes until we were certain they the patient was COVID free and had not been in contact with a COVID positive person for 7 days prior. We have asked that the County Council officers to refuse to accept any further discharges to care home settings unless this assurance is given. Whilst we are pleased that the death rate is now dropping in our view it is clear some mistakes were made here led by the national instruction to clear hospital beds. We also want to know why there is a difference in death rates in our districts which may well be linked to this or to locations being nearer to London. Changes throughout the NHS and Care sector are needed now."
"We raised concerns back in April about discharges into care home settings. We weren't alone. Without the assurances, that rightly families need, the risk is simply too great, it needs to stop now," demanded Cllr Ron Tindall for the Liberal Democrats.