Tag: elderly

18,000 elderly people have died of COVID-19 in British care homes and now Boris Johnson’s government is being accused of human rights abuse



a man and a woman standing in front of a mirror: Care worker Sarah Cox helps fix care home resident, Patricia Taylor's hair on May 6, 2020 in Borehamwood, England Getty


© Getty
Care worker Sarah Cox helps fix care home resident, Patricia Taylor’s hair on May 6, 2020 in Borehamwood, England Getty

  • The death of thousands of COVID-19 in British care homes was a violation of their human rights, according to Amnesty International.
  • The human rights organization has now called for the public inquiry, promised by the government in July, to begin immediately. 
  • The report also raised particular concerns about the inappropriate use of “do not attempt resuscitation” (DNAR) orders issued on a blanket basis in care homes.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

More than 18,000 untested elderly people died of COVID-19 in British care homes in what a damning new report from Amnesty International has described as a violation of their human rights.

Between March and June, over 28,116 “excess deaths” were recorded in care homes in England, with 18,500 of them confirmed to have been from COVID-19, according to the human rights group’s Crisis Response team.

The report. entitled As If Expendable: The UK Government’s Failure to Protect Older People in Care Homes during the COVID-19 Pandemic, found that many of the deaths were “entirely avoidable.”

Amnesty International, the world’s leading human rights group,  has called for the public inquiry promised by the government in July to begin immediately in a move that would compel the government to release confidential records and documents. 

Ministers, including Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, would also be required to testify under oath and attempt to justify their actions, which Amnesty International has called “shockingly irresponsible.” 

Until March 13, two days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus a global pandemic, Public Health England had said that “there is no need to do anything differently in any care setting at present.”

Four days later, the government ordered the discharge of 25,000 hospital patients into care homes and reiterated the instruction at the beginning of March despite the WHO confirming the existence of pre-symptomatic cases on the very same day. 

The Amnesty report also raised particular concerns about the inappropriate use of “do not attempt resuscitation” (DNAR) orders issued to care managers who were told to add the instruction to residents’ files as a blanket approach.

Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Adviser and author of the report, told Business Insider: “The DNAR orders have not been revised since they were imposed and we are calling for the government’s Department of Health and Social Care to immediately investigate the issue and every single case individually. 

“It is imperative that lessons are learned so that the same mistakes are not repeated, and that those responsible for such disastrous decisions are held accountable.”

Care home residents were often denied access to NHS services they were entitled to, the report found. Staff and relatives told Amnesty that sending residents to hospital was heavily discouraged or outright refused, “violating their right to health and potentially their right to life, as well as their right to non-discrimination,” according to the report.

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Coronavirus vaccine ‘should be given to elderly first’, government advisor says

A group of people wearing face masks wait for a bus in Southend on Sea, Essex. (Getty)
A group of people wearing face masks wait for a bus in Southend on Sea, Essex. (Getty)

A coronavirus vaccine is likely to be given to elderly people first when it arrives, a government advisor has said.

Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol, who is a member of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), said age should determine those given priority rather than occupation.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that evidence collected by the JCVI, which advises the government on vaccines, showed carers and those who are vulnerable should also receive the jab ahead of the rest of the population.

“People should not imagine that there’s going to be a sudden and complete solution,” he said on Tuesday.

“These early vaccines I hope will work to some extent, but there are lots of different vaccines, and they will not all work equally effectively.

An elderly woman wearing a face mask shelters from the rain in London. (Getty)
An elderly woman wearing a face mask shelters from the rain in London. (Getty)

“So it’s going to be a long drawn-out process getting this right.”

Prof Finn said the “obvious people to target for the vaccines, at least at the outset, will be the people that who are at highest risk of getting sick and dying, and that’s really the elderly and alongside them those that care for them”.

But he warned it was difficult “to find out whether a vaccine blocks transmission until you implement it”, adding that “with most of the programmes in the past, this is something we found after we’ve started using the vaccine”.

Read more: ‘Rapid achievement’ allows antibody trial to move to next phase

“There are ways that you can try and get at that during the course of doing trials, but it is more difficult to do,” he added.

“And of course you would need to have a lot of vaccine to immunise enough people to start to have that effect anyway.

“So for both of those reasons, I think we’re likely to see the vaccine being directed towards people who are seen as being at the highest risk, at least to start with.”

Watch: How does the data blunder affect the battle against COVID-19?

It comes as Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth asked Matt Hancock in the Commons if the whole population would get access to a COVID vaccine.

He said: “There has been an expectation that the whole of the population would be vaccinated, not least because he said at the Downing Street press conference that ‘I would hope given the scale of the crisis that we would have vaccine and everybody would have the vaccine’.”

Responding, the health secretary said: “Decisions on the distribution of any vaccine have not been taken.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations are the body that advises the government on the appropriate clinical prioritisation of vaccines.

“They published an interim guide… and that sets out the order of priority as an interim but we await the data… from the clinical trials

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