Patients discharged in the first wave from Guy’s and St Thomas’ to care homes without knowing if they had coronavirus

Josh Salisbury (30 November, 2020)

They were placed into care homes without knowing if they had coronavirus because they were weren't tested beforehand

40801St Thomas' Hospital, SE1, inset: coronavirus

More than 100 patients were discharged from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals into care homes without anyone knowing if they had coronavirus during the first wave of the pandemic, the News can reveal.

Until April 16, it was national policy that only those displaying symptoms of Covid were tested before being discharged into a care home.

It means patients without symptoms may have carried coronavirus into homes with vulnerable residents without knowing it.

According to data obtained by this paper, between March 1 and April 15, Guy’s and St Thomas’ discharged 103 patients into care homes without testing them for coronavirus.

Now all patients are tested for Covid before being discharged into a home, after a high death toll at care homes during the first wave.

READ MORE: Hundreds discharged into south London care homes without anyone knowing if they had coronavirus

The News has already reported that hundreds of patients were discharged from hospitals run by King’s College NHS Trust, and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.

A spokesperson for Guy’s and St Thomas’ said it followed national policy at all times.

“We have always followed national guidance on testing patients for coronavirus and in accordance with this, earlier this year we tested patients on admission and those showing COVID-19 symptoms,” said a spokesperson.

“In line with current NHS guidance, patients are now tested for coronavirus 48 hours before they are discharged to care homes.”

The data shows that two patients tested positive prior to being discharged into a home. 

The News asked whether the Guy’s and St Thomas’ could guarantee nobody was discharged into a care home while doctors knew they were infectious with a positive coronavirus test. The Trust repeated it followed national guidance at all times.

There was a rush to clear beds across the NHS estate in the first wave, including in south London hospitals, officials at the south east London clinical commissioning group have previously told the News.

Care home staff may have also carried the virus into homes asymptotically, too, because there was a lack of tests to check whether those without symptoms had coronavirus.

At King’s College NHS Trust, 111 patients were put into care homes without anyone knowing if they had coronavirus during that time period, the News revealed earlier this month.

At Lewisham and Greenwich, the figure stands at 130. In total, 344 people were put into care homes without a Covid test in those six weeks from the three hospital trusts.

Now anyone being discharged into a Southwark care home gets tested. Residents in homes get tested every 28 days automatically, and care home staff are tested weekly.

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