Addenbrooke’s released more than 100 patients into care homes over six week period without testing for Covid-19
- Credit: Archant
More than 100 people were discharged from Addenbrooke’s Hospital into care homes in March and early April without receiving a test for Covid-19.
Information provided under the Freedom of Information Act shows that 148 people were discharged from hospital by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust into care homes between March 1 and April 15.
Of these 116 of those people were discharged from Addenbrooke’s Hospital to care homes without being tested for the virus.
The trust says the other 32 people discharged to care homes in that time were tested, and all tested negative.
The national guidance then changed so that from April 16 every hospital in the country was instructed to test patients prior to discharging them to a care home.
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Cambridge University Hospitals’ medical director, Ashley Shaw, said that prior to April 16 all patients showing symptoms of the virus were tested.
Dr Shaw said: “Since April 16, 2020, every patient being discharged to a care home has been tested for Covid-19 regardless of their symptoms.
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“Before that date, testing capacity was more limited and was protected for those patients who were symptomatic.
“However, our clinical teams were using their best judgement to assess whether any patient was showing any signs of Covid-19 infection. If any symptoms were identified, then they were not discharged until we had undertaken a test and received the result.
“On April 16, as testing capacity was increasing, the national requirement was introduced for all patients to be tested prior to discharge to a care home. This has become our routine procedure and we are working hard to support the care homes in our area to help them manage the risks related to coronavirus.”
Data from the Care Quality Commission shows there have been 99 deaths involving a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 in care homes in the Cambridgeshire County Council area in the period for which there is available data, April 10 to May 29.
Charlotte Black, the service director for adults and safeguarding at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We have always followed national guidelines, and in addition gone over and above these to support those who require support from adult social care and our care providers.
“We have also continued to focus our efforts on enabling people to stay well and independent and access support in their local community.
“In March, national policy was that testing capacity was prioritised for those patients in hospital with coronavirus symptoms. This means many patients would not have received a test before discharge unless they were showing the recognised symptoms at the time.”
She said: “All councils were asked to discharge people from hospital in anticipation of the Covid-19 peak, and at the time testing was not widely available in the way it is now.
“We are now working with the NHS to implement the Government’s Action Plan for Adult Social Care and national guidance that anyone being discharged to a care home is tested beforehand. A Covid-19 care plan is also agreed in advance of discharge with each patient being considered on an individual basis.
“Our support package to residential and nursing homes across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has included a 10 per cent uplift in funding from April 18, daily and weekly support and advice, access to essential PPE if any home’s own stocks were low, and providing additional staff, including trained volunteers and those redeployed from other roles in the council, to support homes where staffing levels were affected by the epidemic.”
According to the government’s Covid-19 action plan published on April 15: “The UK Government with the NHS set out its plans on March 17, 2020 to free up NHS capacity via rapid discharge into the community and reducing planned care.
“We are mindful that some care providers are concerned about being able to effectively isolate Covid-positive residents, and we are determined to make sure discharges into nursing or social care do not put residents currently in those settings at risk. We can now confirm we will move to institute a policy of testing all residents prior to admission to care homes.
“This will begin with all those being discharged from hospital and the NHS will have a responsibility for testing these specific patients, in advance of timely discharge. Where a test result is still awaited, the patient will be discharged and pending the result.”