Eight patients were discharged from Bath’s Royal United Hospital into care homes despite testing positive for COVID-19, a freedom of information request has revealed.
Some 208 people were discharged into care homes between 1st March and 15th April – the day the Government and Public Health England brought in routine testing in such cases – but 163 were not tested.
Of the 45 people who were tested, eight were positive, one was suspected to be infected and one had symptoms of the illness.
A further two patients were confirmed positive on a previous admission but not tested during that admission.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that COVID-19 is linked to 50 deaths in care homes in Bath and North East Somerset, although the hospital serves a wider footprint.
Pam Richards, the area coordinator of Protect Our NHS, said the figures were “shocking but not surprising”, adding: “A lot of people across the country were discharged without testing. It was a huge mistake not to protect care homes or to test patients before they were discharged.
“Hospitals had been told to clear beds for more patients. It was unwise. In a way it fuelled the pandemic.
“In due course it needs to be looked at very carefully.”
Lisa Cheek, the director of nursing and midwifery at the RUH, said: “Like other trusts across the country we followed Government and Public Health England guidance that was available at the time regarding discharge of residents to care homes and to their usual place of residence.
“We worked closely, and continue to do so, with our local authority partners to ensure the highest standards of safe care for our patients discharged into the community.
“We have also accommodated individual care home guidance, and supported care homes with advice and training on infection prevention and protection.
“We have followed the national guidance on testing that has come out in April and any subsequent revisions.
“Since then we have tested every single patient prior to discharge to nursing homes.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter