NHS hospitals released 25,000 people into nursing homes at the height of the British Covid-19 crisis without testing them for the coronavirus.
Critics say the move ordered to release beds for an expected increase in severely ill virus patients was "exceptional" and shows that nursing homes were an "afterthought".
The National Audit Office (NAO) report – the first independent review of preparations for the pandemic – said nursing homes to protect the NHS were overlooked.
It counted the 25,000 patients discharged between March 17 and April 15. The peak of coronavirus deaths in hospitals in England was on April 8th.
More than 13,000 people have now died of Covid-19 in nursing homes in England and Wales, and they account for an increasing proportion of all coronavirus deaths.
Meg Hillier, chair of the public finance committee, said it was highlighted that nursing homes were "at the back of the queue" during the pandemic.
The NAO report also revealed that plans to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) were hampered because officials ignored the 2019 warnings to keep clothes and visors – and didn't have enough when needed.
As a result, less than half of the equipment required was available to healthcare workers at the front of the crisis.
To date, at least 300 healthcare workers have died from coronavirus. Surviving families and health unions say that a lack of PPE is partly to blame.
It has been confirmed that more than 11,000 people in nursing homes have died as a direct result of Covid-19, and many more are believed to have succumbed to the virus without being diagnosed, meaning that they have not yet been counted in the official death toll
According to data released by the National Statistics Office today, deaths in nursing homes doubled between March and April at the height of the crisis
The NAO report identified a “problematic” relationship between social welfare and the NHS in which 25,000 hospital patients were discharged into nursing homes before widespread testing was carried out.
It was said that years of failed efforts to integrate the health and social sectors were to blame for nursing homes being abandoned during the crisis.
More than one in three nursing homes in the country has suffered an outbreak of Covid-19.
Ms. Hillier, chair of the Public Finance Committee and a Labor MP in London, said: “Nursing homes were at the bottom of the queue for both PPE and testing, so they received only a small fraction of what they received from the central government required.
"Residents and staff were again an afterthought: out of sight and understanding, with devastating consequences."
Recent statistics from the National Statistics Bureau, which collects high-quality data on coronavirus deaths, show that by May 29, at least 13,460 people in nursing homes had died from the virus.
This was 29 percent of all 45,748 deaths recorded in all settings by that date, the ONS said.
Nursing home residents have a much higher risk of dying than the general public if they become infected with the corona virus, as it is more fatal to the elderly.
The reasons for this are still not clear, but it is believed that higher rates of other health conditions affecting the heart, lungs, and brain, as well as general frailty, are to blame.
It is also more difficult to contain the virus in nursing homes, as many people are unable to live independently. You can therefore rely on regular close contact with employees who often look after several people at the same time.
Cases are also believed to be more difficult to identify because residents often develop other conditions with similar symptoms and may not show any typical signs of Covid-19.
The government's policy for testing in nursing homes during the peak of the outbreak was to test a small sample in the home and, if positive cases were found, assume that there was an outbreak in the home and automatically classify other people with similar symptoms as a coronavirus patient.
Widespread tests only became available in April.
According to the NAO report, “Due to government policies at the time, not all patients were tested for Covid-19 prior to discharge, with priority given to patients with symptoms.
& # 39; We have reported successive efforts to integrate the two sectors: there have been 12 government white papers, green papers and consultations, and five independent integration reviews over the past 20 years.
"However, there should still be meaningful integration into the pandemic, and the lack of this integration has in many ways made it more difficult to respond to the crisis."
To date, at least 300 healthcare workers have died from coronavirus, and people from black and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected. The picture shows employees of the BAME healthcare system who fell victim to the disease
The NAO also revealed that plans to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) were hampered because officials ignored clothing and visor stocking warnings (file)
Coronavirus has killed 1 in 16 nursing home residents in England and Wales, the analysis shows
Coronavirus is reported to have killed one in 16 nursing home residents in England and Wales.
Data show that there have been 26,211 more deaths in nursing homes since the outbreak began than the five-year average over the same period.
While the coronavirus is believed to be the main driver of the increase in deaths, it is believed that the mass disruption to normal nursing home care following the pandemic has also resulted in people losing their lives.
Figures released today by the National Statistics Office (ONS) show that 11,614 deaths are related to the coronavirus, while the other half are due to other reasons.
Much of the excess deaths are due to dementia or related illnesses, although many residents of nursing homes have had major problems in these situations due to the lack of contact with trusted relatives due to the tightening of the blocking regulations.
In England and Wales, 411.00 people live in nursing homes. The data show that more than six percent – or one in 16 – have died since spring.
The report also found that ministers ignored warnings about stocking essential PPE in June 2019.
Nervtag (New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group), which advises the government on the planning of pandemics, called on Public Health England to store tens of thousands of clothes and visors.
The NAO said that PHE supplied only a fifth of the clothes, a third of the eye protection, and half of the aprons recommended by Nervtag.
In February, PHE had 41,500 pairs of gloves, 25,700 eye protection and 156,000 face masks. By the end of April, the stocks were completely used up, the report said.
Ms. Hillier said frontline health workers were "severely disappointed by the government's failure to properly prepare".
She added, "Terrifyingly, the government missed the last opportunity to top up the central PSA inventory even after the NHS had reached the highest alert."
Susan Masters, a director of the Royal College of Nursing, repeated Ms. Hillier's comments, adding: “Our members in study groups, nursing homes or hospitals who have had difficulty accessing the necessary protective equipment to protect them and their patients will become You are alarmed to see that an important opportunity to stock adequate equipment has been missed, ”she said.
Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee and former health minister, said: “It seems exceptional that no one has considered the clinical risk for nursing homes, although it is well known that the virus can be transmitted asymptomatically.
"Places like Germany and Hong Kong have taken measures to protect their nursing homes, which we have not taken for a critical period of four weeks."
Jonathan Ashworth, Labor's shadow health minister, warned that the NHS had "entered the Covid-19 crisis, which was uncovered after years of underfunding and bed shedding and a huge shortage of staff."
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health and Welfare said: “We have delivered over 1.7 billion PSAs and continue to ensure that care is achieved at the front line.
"The modeled PSA requirements presented in this report are theoretical worst-case estimates. It is misleading to compare them with numbers of centrally procured PPE that do not take into account equipment that is supplied through other routes or existing local inventory."
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) News (t) Coronavirus (t) NHS