Covid: Judge allows legal challenge into care home deaths

Image source, Cathy Gardner
Image caption,
Dr Cathy Gardner with her father Michael Gibson, who died aged 88 in a care home in Oxfordshire in April

A woman whose father died with Covid has won the first stage of a legal challenge over measures taken to protect those living in care homes.

Dr Cathy Gardner, from Sidmouth in Devon, claims there was a failure to implement "adequate" measures to protect residents.

It follows the death of her father in an Oxfordshire care home in April.

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

Dr Gardner said: "This is for the thousands of families affected by the loss of loved ones in care homes since March."

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

He said: "I consider it in the interests of justice for the claim to be heard."

Dr Gardner, who is bringing her case alongside Fay Harris, argues certain key policies and decisions led to a "shocking death toll" of care home residents.

These include an alleged policy of discharging patients from hospital into care homes without testing and suitable isolation arrangements.

'Unprecedented challenges'

The legal action is being brought against the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England.

Dr Gardner, who has a PhD in virology, said her legal team would ask "to see the evidence behind the decisions that they took, how those decisions were taken, who was involved in discussions, why they decided to discharge people from hospital without testing and why they didn't commence any sort of real protection of people in care homes".

Sir James Eadie QC, barrister for the government and PHE, said the challenge was "unarguable".

In court documents, he said: "The government was faced with unprecedented challenges and fast-evolving scientific advice.

"Throughout the period in issue it considered how best to protect older people both within and outside care homes.

"That involved making a series of judgments based on expert scientific advice, in an area in which the science was uncertain and evolving.

"There is no arguable basis on which to conclude that those judgments fell outside the range of reasonable responses to the pandemic as it, and understanding of it, developed."

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