Leigh Day investigates negligence claim against government following covid High Court ruling
The ruling on covid policies in care homes could pave the way 'to one of the first and largest group action of its kind'
Following a High Court ruling last week, human rights lawyers from law firm Leigh Day are investigating possible compensation claims for families who lost loved ones in care homes during the covid-19 pandemic.
The High Court ruled in favour of two women who brought claims after they each lost their fathers in care homes during the pandemic. The High Court ruled the government’s policies at the start of the pandemic – when care home residents who had spent time in hospital were discharged back into care homes without a period of self-isolation – were unlawful.
The court ruled the policies contained in documents published in March and April 2020 were unlawful because they failed to take into account the risk to vulnerable and elderly residents in care homes from the virus being passed on by those with no symptoms.
The judges commented that there was a need to discharge patients back to care homes to free up capacity in hospitals, and that the suggestion every patient should have been tested was “hopeless”. However, they found it was irrational for the government not to have advised that asymptomatic patients should have isolated for 14 days after returning to a care home.
The government said Public Health England (PHE) failed to inform them of the dangers of transmission by asymptomatic patients; however, it was heard by the court that these risks had been highlighted, including by the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, and that this was “quite likely” to have been as early as mid-March.
The women’s claims under human rights legislation and against NHS England were dismissed.
Leigh Day partner Emma Jones specialises in representing elderly and vulnerable people, and their families, in cases where there have been failings in care, neglect or abuse in a care home setting.
Jones said: "This High Court ruling that the policy was 'unlawful' assists our investigations into whether it is possible for families who lost loved ones to sue the government in negligence. If we can build a case and one of these is successful it could lead to one of the first and largest group action of its kind.
"The recent case looked at the overarching principles and the law. We are now investigating whether or not there might be a case on behalf of people's loved ones who died in care homes. This will include an investigation into the facts of each individual case. This is important because for families it's not about the money, it's about answers."