Covering their backs on Covid – lies about the effect of releasing untested people into Care Homes

The Minister of Health is under fire over accusations that he lied about patients discharged from hospital being tested before being sent to Care Homes.

At a Presser last night Jenny Harries, chief executive of UK Health Security Agency (which has replaced PHE) was at pains to explain that the massive (she didn’t actually use the word massive) death toll in Care Homes was due to the staff moving between units and not because of the virus being seeded from hospitals. They even have a % figure – an astonishingly low 1.7%. So – that’s it. It is the fault of staff on £8.00 an hour. It is reassuring to know that the DHSC/PHE/UK HSA has the resources at the moment to do the detailed research to cover their backs. But odd then that there is no time for a Public Inquiry. As to this unlikely 1.7% – even if even remotely true (there are numerous reports from Care Home managers which anecdotally contradict it) it doesn’t make any difference; their job was to protect care home residents (hint ‘The Department of Health and Social Care’) and if that meant making arrangements so that staff did not have to move between units to earn enough money to live that is what they should have done.

[Update: the 1.7% figure appears to be highly dubious. This is from the Guardian:

“Vic Rayner, the chief executive of the National Care Forum, said that the conclusions of the PHE report [] seemed “highly unlikely”. She said the report only considered those who had tested positive, and it barely acknowledged that the vast majority of the 25,000 people who were rushed out of hospital in March 2020 were not tested for Covid at all. The report – written last October but only released the day after Cummings gave evidence – made no attempt to calculate how many of the untested patients may have spread Covid in care homes.”

The methodology of the report appears to be to count deaths in Care Homes linked to positive Covid tests and then link that to recent discharges into that Care Home from hospital. If the discharged person was the first person in the outbreak to be tested positive (or have a positive Covid test within 2 days) within 2 days and if people (2 or more) died in an associated outbreak then that would be counted as being the result of a hospital discharge.

However. Note this: “Index hospital-associated cases would not be identified if the admitted patient was not tested for COVID-19 either due to asymptomatic status or testing practices”. So the whole stats. still depends on Covid testing which was not widespread in April. And note especially “if the admitted patient was not tested for COVID-19 either due to asymptomatic status” – so many cases would still have gone uncounted because testing in Care Homes was not widespread. The BBC explains this:

“And it is important to note that, at this time, there was a lack of testing so not every outbreak may have been recorded.

The BBC also says: “Also, the figures do not count people who were not previously care home residents who were transferred into them from hospitals.” I have not checked this point in the report.

Also – the report was based on deaths with a positive Covid test. But it is already known that this method massively undercounted deaths. Using the more accurate excess deaths measure there were far more deaths. These would not have been included in the figures cited by Jenny Harris. She must know this.

Furthermore by the figures themselves there were more outbreaks between mid-March and mid-April – precisely the period when untested patients were discharged en masse into care homes untested (17 March to 15 April): “Most cases [hospital linked outbreaks] were concentrated in March to mid-April”.

This report with its amazingly low figure of 1.7% is misleading in terms of what happened in the key period between 17/3 and 15/ a) because it depends on Covid testing which for the key period 17/3 to 15/4 was not widely available and b) it covers a much wider period (the period 30 January to 12 October 2020) than the key period in question and so the high figure for 17/3 to 15/4 will have been diluted by improved stats. following the introduction of a test on discharge policy on 15/4. There also appear to be other significant data anomalies in the report.

But the one thing these people can do is manage the narrative: they have got their 1.7% figure which is very questionable especially as regards the period in question March-April 2020 into the narrative and most people will have to accept it as they don’t have time to study the report. Professor Jackie Cassell who is a member of a government working group on Covid who is quoted by the Guardian as saying the figure is “entirely plausible” because of the “frailty of the residents” appears to be working for the cover-up. In reality this level of cynicism makes me want to cry.]

Notice how this Public Official is reusing to the aid of the beleaguered Minister of Health. The problem for the Public Inquiry is clear; the errors are not limited to Government Ministers – the top officials at the DHSC are equally responsible for the avoidable Covid calamity which has befallen the UK. And so they are all (and there are already numerous signs of this) going to work in cahoots to present a common face to the Inquiry to cover themselves.

Incidentally, salary ranges for members of the Management Committee at PHE range from 80,000 to 255,000 with the median appearing to be somewhere around 150,000. (From PHE Annual Report 2018/19). [1]

The behaviour of the current regime in the UK is that of Local Authorities. The standard way they manage anything is to make a complete mess of it and then to expend a huge amount time and effort on producing a plausible cover-up story. Management skills: limited. Cover-up skills: superb.

(Footnote: The Health Minister’s excuse appears to be that there was no testing capacity available. But whose fault was this?:

The UK’s failure to mass test for coronavirus has been condemned by a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert, who revealed 44 laboratories had been left idle. Ministers and scientists should have recognised weeks ago that a South Korean-style blitz – which reduced the death rate there to just three per million – was the correct response, Anthony Costello said. [2])



Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer