Covid-19: Sidmouth woman takes legal action over Government care home policies

Cathy Gardner with her father, Michael Gibson. Picture: Supplied by Cathy Gardner

Cathy Gardner with her father, Michael Gibson. Picture: Supplied by Cathy Gardner - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth councillor is threatening the Government with legal action over the suspected Covid-19 death of her father in a care home.

Cathy Gardner says her father Michael Gibson, 88, died at his Oxfordshire care home on April 3, and claims it was shortly after another resident had returned from hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus.

She said Mr Gibson’s death certificate says ‘probable Covid-19’ because he was not tested. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr Gardner, who represents Sidmouth Town on East Devon District Council, says her father and tens of thousands of other care home residents were put at risk because of the policy to discharge patients from hospitals with no regard for the danger of coronavirus infection.

On May 15, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, said: “Right from the start it’s been clear that this horrible virus affects older people most. So right from the start we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes.”

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Dr Gardner said she was ‘appalled’ by this statement.

She said: “The truth is that there has been, at best, a casual approach to protecting the residents of care homes; at worst the Government have adopted a policy that has caused the deaths of the most vulnerable in our society.”

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In a letter to Matt Hancock, dated Tuesday, June 2, solicitor Paul Conrathe argues that Mr Hancock, NHS England and Public Health England all violated the human rights of care home residents and staff by failing to protect them from Covid-19.

He says the Government also made ‘misleading and - in some cases - plainly false statements’ suggesting that everything necessary had been done.

He calls on them to accept responsibility of their ‘unlawful’ decisions and policies, issue revised guidelines to prevent further deaths, and correct the ‘misrepresentations’ made by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health.

If they fail to do so, the next stage would be High Court proceedings for a judicial review.

The Department for Health and Social Care, and NHS England, say they are unable to comment on ongoing or potential legal action.

Dr Gardner has set up a crowdfunding page to pay for her legal costs.

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