Tens of thousands discharged into care homes before routine coronavirus testing in England

The information ITV News has obtained relates to care homes in England. Credit: PA

After repeatedly requesting it, we've finally obtained data on hospital discharges into care homes in England, which Care England claims spread coronavirus.

In the space of a month, 25,060 people were discharged from hospital into care homes without being routinely tested for Covid-19 in England.

It was only on April 16 that blanket testing of all discharges began.

NHS England has released data showing discharges were slightly higher at the start of the pandemic than 2019.

Hospital discharges into care homes at the start of the coronavirus crisis were slightly higher compared to 2019. Credit: NHS

But both the government and NHS Providers (which represents NHS trusts in England) say discharges into care homes then fell by 40% during the pandemic, which is evidenced in the data.

NHS Providers say it's therefore wrong to claim Covid-positive patients were "systematically" and "knowingly" discharged.

Hospital discharges into care homes fell to 40% during the pandemic. Credit: NHS

But the number of discharges to all destinations fell during the pandemic, which makes sense.

Tragically, people were dying and did not go on to be discharged.

And fewer people with other illnesses were seeking hospital treatment in the first place.

The number of all hospital discharges fell during the coronavirus crisis. Credit: ITV News

And therefore it may be more useful to look at care home discharges as a percentage of all discharges.

If homes were being protected, did the percentage of discharges to care homes fall?

No, it didn't.

In fact, it doubled in late March from 2% to 4% (our graph below, vs 2019).

Hospital discharges into care homes increased in 2020. Credit: ITV News
Hospital discharges into care homes in 2019. Credit: ITV News

So to conclude, discharges to all destinations fell during the pandemic.

But discharges into care homes were higher at the beginning and rose as a proportion.

Nobody is saying hard-working hospitals deliberately risked care homes, but a lack of testing of discharges may have.

And a reminder that last week we obtained our own data, showing emergency plans to discharge thousands of patients into care homes in England at the beginning of the pandemic.