COVID-19: Government Breaks Law by Failing Nursing Home Residents Who Killed by Coronavirus, High Court Decides | UK News

The government broke the law by failing to protect more than 20,000 elderly or disabled nursing home residents who died after contracting COVID-19, the district court has ruled.

The case was brought by Dr. Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris, whose fathers Michael Gibson and Donald Harris died after being tested positive for coronavirus.

In a decision on Wednesday, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham concluded that policies contained in documents released in March and early April 2020 were illegal because they failed to take into account the risk of elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of the virus. .

They said that despite there being “growing awareness” of the risk of asymptomatic transmission throughout March 2020, there was no evidence that Matt Hancock, who was secretary of health at the time, addressed the issue of the risk of nursing home residents at a such transfer.

Dr. Gardner, whose father died at the age of 88 in a nursing home in Bicester, Oxfordshire, in April 2020, said in a statement following the ruling: “My father died along with tens of thousands of other elderly and vulnerable people tragically. first wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

“I always thought my father and other nursing home residents were neglected and let down by the government.”

A lawyer representing Dr. Gardner and Mrs Harris, the judges told that more than 20,000 elderly or disabled nursing home residents had died of COVID-19 in England and Wales between March and June 2020.

Jason Coppel QC said that the fathers of both Dr. Gardner and Mrs. Harris were part of this “charge.”

“The nursing home population was known to be uniquely vulnerable to being killed or seriously injured by COVID-19,” Coppel said in a written briefing.

“The government’s lack of protection for it, and positive steps taken by the government, which introduced COVID-19 infection in nursing homes, represent one of the most violent and devastating political failures of the modern era.”

Sir. Coppel told the judges: “That death toll should not and need not have happened.”

He added: “Overall, the different policies were a recipe for disaster, and disaster is what happened.”

Read more: Daughter of nursing home victim says government allegations of “protection ring” were “lies”

Cathy Gardner (2nd left) and Fay Harris (2nd right), whose fathers died of Covid-19, leave the Royal Courts of Justice
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Cathy Gardner, left, and Fay Harris, right, took High Court case against the government

Coppel said other countries, particularly in the Far East, had shown the way to protect residents by preventing the virus from entering nursing homes.

Hancock’s spokesman has said the High Court found he acted reasonably, but Public Health England “failed to tell ministers what they knew about the asymptomatic transmission” of COVID-19, and “Mr Hancock has often stated how he would like , that this had been brought to his attention earlier. “.

Lawyers representing Health Minister Sajid Javid, NHS England and Public Health England had countered the allegation that the government was acting illegally by failing to protect nursing homes.

Read more: Matt Hancock says ‘we worked as hard as possible to protect nursing homes’

Sir James Eadie QC, who represented Mr Javid and Public Health England, said the women’s claim was inadmissible.

“This is a legal challenge to six specific policies that were made in the early stages of the pandemic,” he told the judges.

“As the evidence shows, the defendants (and continue to work) worked tirelessly to seek to protect the public from the threat to life and health posed by the most serious pandemic in the month’s memory, and have specifically sought to protect nursing homes and their residents. . “

Nursing Home - Dr.  Cathy Gardner
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Dr. Cathy Gardner, the government acted illegally by failing to protect nursing homes

He added: “The legality of the contested decisions must be assessed in the context of the unprecedented challenge that the government and the NHS faced at the time, particularly March and April 2020.”

Eleanor Gray QC, who represented NHS England, also argued that the claim should be rejected.

A government spokeswoman said in an out-of-court statement during the hearing: “Every death is a tragedy, and we worked tirelessly to protect the public from the threat to life and health posed by the pandemic, and we specifically sought to protect nursing homes and their residents. .

“We have provided billions of pounds to support the sector, including infection and prevention control, free PPE and priority vaccinations – with the vast majority of eligible carers and residents now vaccinated.”

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