The shameful failures that threw care home residents to Covid | Letters

Readers on the government’s mistakes and neglect that meant elderly patients were discharged to care homes, without a Covid test, at the height of the pandemic

I am no fan of Dominic Cummings but I am pleased that the evidence he gave last week has opened up the conversation regarding discharges to care homes (Dominic Cummings says PM had no plan to protect vulnerable people from Covid, 25 May).

I am a nurse and during the first wave of Covid-19 I was on a ward that was caring for elderly patients. A huge part of my job was arranging what are known as complex discharges. This mainly consisted of discharging people to care homes. I am racked with guilt about this.

Care homes were trying to decline transfers whose Covid status was not known, clearly distressed and trying to protect their other residents. I repeatedly raised this and my own misgivings with the discharge team and was told the homes have no choice, they must take patients, even those we thought may have been exposed.

This was a diktat far above our heads and the discharge teams were following national guidelines in March and April 2020.

I have no doubt that patients I discharged to care homes spread Covid-19 and I will always have a personal sense of responsibility for this. My colleagues who were insisting on discharges are not to blame, although I am sure they feel their own sense of guilt.

I only wish Matt Hancock and those at the top would accept the responsibility they have for those whose lives could have been saved and the impact all of this has had on those they stood and clapped for every Thursday.
Name and address supplied

• In March and April 2020, many elderly patients were hurriedly transferred to care homes from hospital despite never having been in a care home before. In some cases, wards were emptied with undue haste. Hospitals and care homes were in lockdown so we could not see loved ones to explain what was happening to them.

When my beloved partner was transferred thus, the care home denied me the chance to talk to him on the phone or even to wave to him from outside. It was unbearably cruel and I have to live with the fact that I was not more proactive.

At the beginning of last April, we received a letter saying the home had admitted a patient with Covid from the hospital. My partner died there, as did others. He was not tested for Covid but when I was allowed to see him on end-of-life care he was skeletal. He had refused food and liquids for days. Who decided this policy of care home transfer?
Jan Bladen
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

• With increasing incredulity, I listened to Matt Hancock defend his actions to protect care homes in response to Dominic Cummings’s admission that the government had failed to do this.

It matters not that Hancock believed testing would take place before patients were discharged to care homes or that every effort was made to achieve this. He knew that this was not happening, but the public were informed that care homes were being protected and their loved ones would be safe. Older people died in their tens of thousands, as did hundreds of care staff and their families.

Lack of planning meant there were inadequate stocks of personal protective equipment, but lies and false reassurances caused lonely and appalling deaths to people who deserved far better care.

Why is this government still trying to duck responsibility for this carnage?
Dr John Beer
Farnham, Surrey

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