Sidmouth woman seeks High Court action after ‘shameful’ Government response to Covid-19 challenge

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 woman has described the Government’s response to her legal challenge over Covid-19 deaths in care homes as ‘shameful’ - and is now taking her case to the High Court.

Dr Cathy Gardner says her father died in April at a care home where she claims a resident had been re-admitted from hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus.

She says that at the time, the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, was requiring hospitals to discharge patients back into care homes regardless of the Covid-19 risk.

Earlier this month Dr Gardner’s solicitor wrote to Mr Hancock, NHS England and Public Health England (PHE), asking them to accept that they had failed to protect care home residents.

Having received their response, she is now seeking a High Court ruling that the advice given to care homes at the height of the pandemic was unlawful, because it breached the human rights of care home residents and staff.

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She is not seeking financial compensation.

Dr Gardner said: “There is no acknowledgement of any responsibility, nor is there any explanation as to why hospitals were advised to discharge patients into care homes without testing.

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“Patients with a positive Covid test were even discharged from hospital back to care homes without consideration of the consequential risk.”

She said nothing had been received following a request for documents to explain what policies were in place to ensure a ‘protective ring’ was cast around care homes.

She said: “Rather, the Secretary of State’s solicitors state that: ‘The secretary of state, in collaboration with PHE (and NHS England), has taken extensive measures to protect the people who live and work in care homes in response to the risks posed by Covid-19’.

“The defendants have failed to engage with my concerns, failed to disclose relevant documents and have sought to hide behind procedural objections. This is a shameful reply when thousands of very vulnerable people have lost their lives as well as members of staff. I have therefore instructed my solicitors to proceed with the litigation.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has said it is unable to comment on ongoing, or potential, legal action.

A crowdfunding appeal to pay for Dr Gardner’s legal costs has so far attracted more than £60,000 in pledges.

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