In Brief

Daughter of suspected Covid victim launches legal action against Matt Hancock

Woman whose father died in care home demands that health secretary retract his ‘protective ring’ claim

A woman whose father died in an Oxfordshire care home of suspected Covid-19 has launched a High Court action against the health secretary, NHS England and Public Health England. 

Dr Cathy Gardner is seeking an acknowledgement that “the treatment of care homes up to and during the pandemic was unlawful”, Sky News reports.

Her 88-year-old father, Michael Gibson, died of “probable” Covid-19 on 3 April, after a patient who tested positive for the virus was discharged from hospital into his care home. 

The Guardian reports that 35 councils have also blamed the spread of the virus “on discharges with hospital patients sent to homes that did not have sufficient protective equipment and/or facilities to isolate infected residents”. 

The government has advised since 15 May that all patients discharged from hospitals should be tested for coronavirus. But “by the time the government said they were going to introduce testing, people had already died”, says Gardner, a microbiologist with a PhD in virology.

She initially wrote to Hancock and the heads of the NHS at the beginning of June asking that they accept they had failed to protect people’s human rights, reports the BBC.

However, according to Gardner and her solicitors, the government and health bosses have failed to take responsibility or to provide evidence of the health secretary’s claim that policies were implemented to put a “protective ring” around care homes “right from the start”. 

"I am bringing this case now so that the plight of residents and staff at care homes is not allowed to be given low priority again,” said Gardner, who is crowdfunding for her legal fees.

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