Coronavirus hospital patients can be discharged into care homes without being tested under new Government COVID discharge exemption guidance.
In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, National Care Association chair Nadra Ahmed said members were “deeply worried” about the latest proposed advice on hospital COVID discharge exemption, warning that care homes would refuse to accept patients if they weren’t “100 per cent confident” that they were no longer infectious, exacerbating bed shortages.
Under the new guidance, the individuals who will not be retested are those who have:
- tested positive for COVID-19 and are within 90 days of their initial illness onset or positive test date
- completed their 14-day isolation period from onset of symptoms or positive test result (if asymptomatic) and have no new COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.
Otherwise, the current requirement is for hospitals to undertake a COVID-19 PCR test on all people discharged into a care home in the 48 hours prior to discharge. All individuals who test positive within this timeframe should be discharged into designated settings in the first instance. The outcome of tests should be shared with care homes prior to discharge and be included in the discharge summary information.
Care home owners fear a repeat of the rapid spread of infections caused by a Government diktat of March 19 stating that infected patients could be discharged into care homes without a test.
The widely-criticised policy was blamed for care homes accounting for roughly half of all excess deaths – 25,374 – between March 7 and September 18, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).