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Covid Care Homes Claims: The Next Wave?

Nurse attends to elderly patient in a face mask

Yesterday the families of residents who died early in the pandemic as a result of outbreaks of Covid within their relative’s care home settings welcomed a significant ruling of the High Court in England.

UK Government policy on discharging untested patients from hospitals into care homes was held to be unlawful.  The risk of asymptomatic transmission of Covid had been referred to by Sir Patrick Vallance in the media as early as 13 March 2020 and yet it took until 15 April 2020 to change policy to the testing of patients before discharge. During that period, patients were sent to care homes to make space for the anticipated high numbers of Covid patients but, as a result, Covid was brought into their care setting. Those returning to care homes from hospital were not subject to any quarantine arrangements to protect other residents from the risk of contracting the virus. 

Preparation for the Scottish Government’s Covid 19 Inquiry is currently underway and is set to examine, amongst other matters, the high number of deaths in Scottish care homes. The Inquiry is due to commence in the summer this year. 

News of yesterday’s ruling and hearing that lessons have been learned for the future may be a small comfort to the relatives of these care home residents. Considering the anger and loss suffered, it is inevitable that Scottish families will now be considering their legal position and whether a claim may be pursued for damages for the loss of their relative, whether that is directed against the Scottish Government or care home provider.  

Further, potential claims are not limited to the situation where an asymptomatic patient has been discharged to the care home without testing.  The claim could relate to any failure of the care home operator to institute procedures, policies and other safety measures to protect the elderly and vulnerable residents, and indeed those caring for the residents, from the virus entering what is meant to be a safe setting for the resident and place of work for those caring for the resident.   

Yesterday’s news from England together with the errors already acknowledged by the First Minister in Scotland and the fact that a third of all Covid 19 deaths in Scotland have been within care home settings, may well mean the next Covid wave on the horizon is a surge of claims from those who have lost a family member in these very distressing circumstances.

Our team at Thorntons have a strong track record in winning fatal claims on behalf of bereaved family members.   

If you would like to discuss your potential claim please contact our Kathleen-Erin Lawson, Legal Director and Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury on 0131 240 8873 or at klawson@thorntons-law.co.uk. Alternatively, please contact a member of the Personal Injury Team on 0800 731 8434 and we will be pleased to assist further.

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Kathleen-Erin Lawson
Kathleen-Erin Lawson

Kathleen-Erin Lawson

Legal Director

Personal Injury

For more information, contact Kathleen-Erin Lawson or any member of the Personal Injury team on +44 131 240 8873.