‘Thrown to the wolves’: Covid care home ruling is bitter victory for relatives

This time of year brings bad memories for families of care home residents who died in Covid’s first wave when the virus swept, mostly unchecked, through nursing homes.

Just over two years on, the high court ruling that the government’s hospital discharge policy that sent thousands of people untested into care homes was not only illegal but “irrational” comes as bitter proof of what they already knew: something went badly wrong.

Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris were the two grieving daughters who secured the ruling in the face of vigorous denials of wrongdoing by the government. But it also provides justice for the families of many of the 12,500 care home residents who perished with Covid in March and April 2020, some of whom, campaigners say, could have been saved.

Among those family members was Charlie Williams, whose father Rex, 85, was one of 27 people who died in his Coventry care home.

“The last two years of cover-ups and denials have been unbelievably painful,” he said. “We’ve always known that our loved ones were thrown to the wolves by the government, and the claims made by Matt Hancock that a ‘protective ring’ was made around care homes was a sickening lie. Now a court has found their decisions unlawful and it’s clear the decisions taken led to people dying who may otherwise still be with their loved ones today.”

Another relative absorbing the ruling was Lindsay Jackson whose mother, Sylvia, died in a Derbyshire care home on 17 April 2020.

“It’s an affirmation of what many of us believed to be the case,” Jackson said. “But to have it in black and white that your government has disregarded our most vulnerable people and hung them out to dry is really shocking. We are all led to believe the first requirement of a government is to keep its citizens safe. Not only did they not do that, they actively put them in harm’s way.”


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