Amnesty International (UK) states that the sending of 25,000 elderly patients into care homes in England at the start of lockdown to clear NHS beds was a violation of their human rights, due to many not being tested for COVID-19. Amnesty also raised concerns in respect of the significant delays in the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for care home workers, subsequently describing these government decisions as “inexplicable” and “disastrous”. Amnesty are therefore demanding an immediate independent public inquiry.

Amnesty conducted a report based on interviews with relatives of older people who either died in care homes, or are currently residing there. They also interviewed care home owners, staff, as well as legal and medical professionals. The report refers to there being a “number of poor decisions at both the national and local levels” leading to “serious negative consequences for the health and lives of older people in care homes”.

The report states that residents of care homes had their rights to life and non-discrimination violated during the pandemic. Residents were denied GP and hospital services, whilst care home managers reported pressures to accept patients discharged from hospital who had not been tested for COVID-19. The report found that between 2 March and 12 June, 28,186 “excess deaths” were recorded in care homes in England, a figure which Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, described as a “scandal of monumental proportions”. The report also refers to concerns regarding “do not attempt resuscitation” orders being inappropriately adopting during the pandemic.

Amnesty acknowledges that the pandemic is not over and that “lessons must be learned; remedial action must be taken without delay to ensure that mistakes are not repeated”. The report therefore recommends the introduction of regular testing into care homes for residents, staff and visitors to “break the isolation” which causes damage to people’s physical and mental health.

Headed by Natalie Marrison, our experienced Abuse team are able to investigate into all failings within a care home environment. If you have a relative in a care home who you believe has been mistreated, denied access to services or failed in any way, please contact the team on 0113 887 1834. Alternatively, you can make an enquiry using our online enquiry form and we will be in touch when it is convenient for you for a confidential discussion.