Despite Andrew’s protestations to the GP and other medics, this remained the position and three days later his father, a former printer, collapsed and an ambulance was called to help hoist him back to bed. According to his son, the paramedics told the care home staff they would not return to help him again.
A couple of days later, Geoffrey Ward was dead – an apparent victim of Covid, with his family feeling he had been denied care.
His story could be dismissed as an isolated incident given the stress the NHS was under. The Government has also repeatedly offered assurances that everyone who needed care during the pandemic received it.
That line had already started to unravel when Mr Cummings revealed how members of the Government were told by senior advisers that some “people did not get the treatment they deserved, many people were left to die in horrific circumstances”.
But now, documents obtained by The Telegraph show that three years before Covid, the Government raised the matter of withholding care from the elderly in the event of a pandemic, leading to questions about whether individual tragedies could have been part of a wider strategy.
The documents raised scenarios in which, if there was a severe influenza pandemic and extreme pressure on resources, doctors would need to put some elderly patients on an “end of life pathway” and deny them hospital care.
When the Covid pandemic hit, The Telegraph found that restricting care turned out to be one of several ways in which care homes were apparently abandoned.
Guided by its mantra to “protect the NHS”, the Government effectively loaded the Covid problem on to the care sector by telling them early in April last year that hospital patients could be discharged into care homes, regardless of whether they were Covid-positive or had even been tested.
Pressures on the sector meant care staff were forced to cut corners, according to the manager of a Nottinghamshire care home, who admitted that they would sometimes nurse residents in bed all day because they were so short-staffed.
The documents obtained by The Telegraph show that, for vulnerable people cared for at home, this was one of the approaches examined. “Service users being cared for in their own homes will have to remain in bed during the day, with much-reduced hygiene support,” a document states.
A table in the social care report says that in a “moderate” pandemic, care workers would “stop” assisting patients with “getting in and out of bed” or “having a bath/shower” in order that they could provide other basic services.
In a “severe” pandemic, they would even stop “managing toilet needs” – something which it states could be mitigated “by the provision of aids, eg commodes”.
When shown the documents, Lucy Easthope, a disaster recovery professor at Durham University and government adviser, said that pandemic flu briefing papers appeared to show that social care was likely to be sacrificed in the event of a severe pandemic, and that this Government’s “plan” for the sector was so ill-considered that it would inevitably have led to unnecessary deaths.