Intended for healthcare professionals


The neglect of adult social care during covid-19

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 12 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3103

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  1. Jon Glasby, professor of health and social care and head of school,
  2. Catherine Needham, professor of public policy and public management
  1. School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
  2. Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham
  1. j.glasby{at}

Discharging untested patients to care homes was an “appalling error,” says parliamentary report

The government’s response to covid-19 has triggered excoriating critiques, but the tone of the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on adult social care is nonetheless remarkable.1 Focusing particularly on failings in testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), it states that “discharging patients from hospital into social care without first testing them for covid-19 was an appalling error” and that policy relating to PPE was “reckless and negligent.”1 Ironically, the hard hitting PAC report was followed closely by the announcement that regular testing for care home residents and staff, promised from 6 July, would now be delayed until later in the year.2

Over 30 500 excess deaths have been reported in care homes in England since March.3 PAC focuses on the discharge of 25 000 untested patients into care homes between mid-March and mid-April, denouncing the government’s handling of this. It notes that we still do not know which care homes received discharged …

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