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Statement on behalf of the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland re High Court ruling unlawfulness of discharge of COVID patients to care homes

27 April, 2022
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The Commissioner for Older People has given his reaction to today’s ruling by the High Court in England, which found that Government policies on discharging patients from hospital to care homes at the start of the Covid pandemic, were unlawful.

Eddie Lynch said: “I believe today’s ruling in England strengthens the need for a Northern Ireland specific public inquiry into the handling of care homes during the pandemic.  


“At the beginning of the pandemic, I heard of many instances where families were concerned about the discharge of Covid positive patients into care homes here.  At the time, I called on the health authorities to act to protect our care homes and vulnerable residents.  It is easy for us to forget how terrifying the first few months of the pandemic were for everyone, but there are a range of issues that need to be looked at, where I believe, the safety and protection of older residents in care homes may have been compromised.   


“I have already highlighted the issues I wish to see examined by a public inquiry, including how care home deaths were reported, families’ access to loved ones, personal protective equipment (PPE) supply problems, potential misuse of do not attempt resuscitation orders and the pace of testing in care home settings of residents and staff. 


“As normality slowly returns to our society, we cannot simply move on and forget about what happened to some older people, many of whom lost their lives.  Bereaved and concerned families deserve answers and validation.  I want to ensure that we understand what happened and that we use the findings of a care home public inquiry to embed learning and improve planning, should we need to act against new variants of concern or another pandemic in the future.”