Covid-19 hospital discharge decision 'saved lives', says Camden Council

Cllr Patricia Callaghan

Cllr Patricia Callaghan - Credit: Archant

Preventive measures helped minimise the number of Covid-19 related deaths in care homes early in the pandemic, according to Camden Council

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Public Health England (PHE) and the government advised hospitals to free as many beds up as possible. This led to the discharge to care homes of hospital patients who might have carried the virus. 

Shortages of tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) in care homes aggravated the situation.

At a health and adult social care scrutiny committee meeting on November 3, cabinet member Cllr Patricia Callaghan said: “At the very beginning of the pandemic we decided that if a resident needed to be discharged from hospital within seven days of testing positive for Covid-19 they would be provided with care in an NHS community bed instead of returning to their care home.

“Working with our partner councils in north London, this was quickly replicated and helped us to save lives – there were 11% fewer deaths from Covid-19 in care homes across north London compared to England and Wales."

ONS data show that Covid-19 related deaths in care homes in Camden, Haringey and Barnet up to June 1 2020 were 44, 80 and 48, compared to the 86 average in England.

A report published by PHE in July this year identified 97 outbreaks (1.6%) in care homes due to “hospital associated seeding”, however BMJ (British Medical Journal) reports claim these figures are underestimated, partially due to a lack of testing at the time.

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Cllr Callaghan, the cabinet member for a healthy and caring Camden, added: “Testing in care homes started early in the pandemic and by May 2020 1,000 care home staff had been tested. At the same time we launched our Proud to Care rapid recruitment campaign to introduce additional care staff.

“By July 2020, five million items of PPE had been provided to our care homes free of charge.”

Camden was finalist at the LGC Awards on the basis of this work.

“In Camden we are very fortunate to have brilliant staff and partners who have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic," said Cllr Callaghan. 

"Working hand-in-hand with them we have delivered a strong preventative approach and I’m proud to see this recognised at the LGC Awards.”