UK Care Homes Were ‘Pressed’ to Take In COVID-19, Untested Patients During Flare-up, Study Says

A fresh study by the Queen’s Nursing Institute, one of the oldest British social care charities, has cited a number of insiders sharing the nitty-gritty details of the nation’s battle with the coronavirus, as well as updated figures on the heavy toll it has had on the NHS.

UK nursing homes were “constantly pressed” to accept corona-infected and untested residents after they were discharged from packed hospitals, while their own wards were refused the assistance of GPs and hospital treatment at the height of the pandemic, a new study reveals, as cited by the Independent.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute, an authoritative charity which conducted the survey, said homes were told hospitals stuck to “no admissions” policies during April and May, while staffers at those institutions were instructed not to resuscitate newly-arrived patients and their own residents.

The study revealed that in some cases, gravely ill patents were brought into care homes even when the facilities warned that they couldn’t look after them and were barely coping with their own patients. A nurse shared that the “do not resuscitate” instructions were to be applied to all suspected, let alone confirmed COVID-19 patients, with some of the surveyed staff saying they declined to conform to the rule and challenged it as “unethical”.

AP Photo / Alastair Grant

People, some wearing masks queue outside a John Lewis store, in London, Thursday, July 16, 2020. Unemployment across the U.K. has held steady during the coronavirus lockdown as a result of a government salary support scheme, but there are clear signals emerging that job losses will skyrocket over coming months

The study, conducted from May through June,  has arrived at firm evidence of the toll the coronavirus has had on the UK health sector, in addition to the official figures of care home deaths.

Seventy nursing homes, 43 percent of all surveyed, were found to have received patients sent from hospitals whose COVID-19 status was unknown during March and April. A fifth of social institutions said they received at least one patient from hospital who had tested positive for coronavirus.

Although two-thirds of care home staff said they at all times had access to protective gear such as masks and aprons, others were not given proper protection, with some reporting buying their own or even making it themselves.

In total, 16 homes reported poor end-of-life care and four-fifths of the nurses declared they had had negative experiences of working at the frontline during the pandemic, with over half saying their physical and mental health had been shattered.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, between 2 March and 12 June, almost one in every three deaths among care home residents (29.3 percent) involved COVID-19, with 19,394 of those who died having been confirmed infected with the coronavirus.

In response to the ubiquitous criticism of the government’s anti-coronavirus measures amid grim statistics from nursing homes and beyond, including from Labour leader Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson said he takes “full responsibility for what has happened.” Insisting that his team had done all it could at the time, he said that the situation in the care sector was much complicated by the lack of timely medical updates:

“Nobody knew early on during this pandemic… that the virus was being passed asymptomatically from person to person,” he lamented.

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