Struggling care homes were given a £1,000 cash incentive to take in hospital patients in order to free up beds, it has emerged.
To qualify for the payment the home had to admit the patient within 24 hours – regardless if they had coronavirus or not.
Sixteen homes took up the offer from Birmingham City Council.
It comes as Boris Johnson yesterday insisted the ‘last thing’ he had wanted to do was blame care workers for deaths in homes, as a row over apportioning responsibility for the crisis continued.
Birmingham council said the £1,000 incentive, from a £5million pot, was to help pay for any additional costs including extra personal protective equipment, additional staff and cleaning so Covid-19 patients could be isolated.
Boris Johnson yesterday insisted the ‘last thing’ he had wanted to do was blame care workers for deaths in homes, as a row over apportioning responsibility for the crisis continued
But one care home manager who rejected the cash said she’s certain it’s one of the reasons none of her residents have been infected.
Jane Farr, who manages Covid-free Digby Manor care home in Erdington, told the Birmingham Mail: ‘Nobody could be certain those people did not have Covid-19. I’m certain it was a reason we have not had any cases.’
Thousands of care home residents have died during the crisis due to a lack of PPE and the dash to discharge NHS patients without testing them first.
The Prime Minister yesterday again resisted apologising for comments in which he said deaths had been so high because ‘too many care homes’ didn’t follow the proper procedures.
And he attracted further criticism by claiming ‘we just didn’t know’ about asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus, despite warnings stretching back to January.
Boris Johnson told the Commons that the Government took responsibility for its actions during the outbreak – but said understanding of coronavirus had ‘changed dramatically’ in recent months.
He said the Government now knows aspects about how coronavirus is passed between people without symptoms ‘that we just didn’t know’ before.
But minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on January 28 clearly referred to asymptomatic transmission, warning that ‘early indications imply some is occurring’.
Pictured: A file photo shows an elderly woman walking supported by a frame during the coronavirus outbreak. Birmingham council said the £1,000 incentive, from a £5million pot, was to help pay for any additional costs including extra personal protective equipment, additional staff and cleaning so Covid-19 patients could be isolated
From mid-March hospitals were ordered to ‘urgently discharge’ patients to free up bed space but were not told to test patients first. Routine testing was not introduced until April 16.
Campaigners blame this policy for causing the catastrophic spread of Covid-19 in care homes. In Birmingham more than 400 people were moved from hospital to care homes – while the newly built Nightingale Hospital did not admit a single patient.
Birmingham council invited care homes to apply for the cash incentive on April 14.
The ‘one-off payment’ of £1,000 was paid to care homes ‘to recognise the potential additional costs associated with assessing and discharging quickly and to ensure finances are quickly available to support discharge in line with the national guidance’.
The council guidance made clear the home has to accept admissions ‘regardless of the citizen’s Covid-19 testing or diagnosis status at the point of discharge’.
Meanwhile the NHS Nightingale overspill hospital at the NEC never saw a patient and is now mothballed.
Dr David Rosser, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham, has since expressed how, with hindsight, the city created ‘too much’ capacity. He also added that the impact on care homes was not fully appreciated.
Birmingham council said: ‘The payment [to care homes] was to allow additional costs to be funded, meaning Covid status should not be a barrier to discharge.’