- 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.
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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.