Woman wins first stage of legal challenge over protecting care homes from Covid

A woman whose elderly father died in a care home in April has won the first stage of a legal challenge over measures taken to protect those living in care homes from Covid-19.

Dr Cathy Gardner claims there was a failure to implement “adequate” measures to protect residents from the “ravages” of coronavirus and this was “one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures of recent times”.

She is pursuing a High Court claim against the Government and two health bodies over decisions and measures taken in relation to care homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Gardner argues certain key policies and decisions led to a “shocking death toll” of care home residents – which she puts at more than 20,000 people between March and June – particularly an alleged policy of discharging patients from hospital into care homes without testing and suitable isolation arrangements.

Dr Gardner, who is bringing her case with another individual, Fay Harris, alleges the measures breached human rights and equality laws.

At a remote hearing on Thursday, Mr Justice Linden granted Dr Gardner permission for a full hearing of her challenge.

He said that she should be given permission to pursue her case on all grounds saying it “crossed the threshold of arguability”.

The judge also said: “I consider it interests of justice for the claim to be heard.”

The Government and health bodies oppose Dr Gardner’s challenge and asked the judge to dismiss the case.

Dr Gardner’s father, Michael Gibson, died in an Oxfordshire care home on April 3 after it re-admitted without Covid testing a former resident who had been in hospital. Mr Gibson’s death was recorded as “probable Covid”, according to documents before the court.

Ms Harris’s father “died of Covid” after his care home accepted hospital discharges of patients who may have been infected with the virus, it adds.

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