Welsh Labour faces human rights probe

Welsh Labour faces human rights probe over accusations their coronavirus testing failures cost care home residents’ lives

  • The Welsh government was reported to Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Face accusations their testing failures needlessly cost care home residents’ lives
  • Around a third of all coronavirus deaths in Wales have taken place in care home 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The Labour-run Welsh government has been reported to the Equality and Human Rights Commission over accusations their testing failures needlessly cost care home residents’ lives.

Helena Herklots, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, said she had spoken to the EHRC because testing for Covid-19 in the Welsh care sector had been ‘too slow’ and may have breached the elderly’s ‘fundamental right to life’.

Around a third of all coronavirus deaths in Wales have taken place in care homes. 

Before May 2 only staff or residents displaying symptoms were able to access tests. Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething has denied the claims.

The Labour-run Welsh government was reported to the Equality and Human Rights Commission over accusations their testing had been ‘too slow’ and cost care home residents’ lives. (Stock image)

According to a snap survey of 87 care homes in Wales, carried out by the BBC, 16 said they felt pressurised into taking untested or Covid-19 positive patients into their home from hospital. 

Helena Herklots, Older People’s Commissioner in Wales, told BBC Wales Investigates: ‘I have serious concerns that older people’s human rights have been breached; the fundamental right to life – the fact that testing wasn’t in place as quickly as it needed to be for every resident and every member of staff. 

‘That is why I believe the Equality and Human Rights Commission needs to investigate.’

Nigel Clark, who runs Alma Lodge Care Home, in Port Talbot, said he was told he would be reported to the authorities if he did not take patients from hospitals who hadn’t been tested.

Brian Rosenberg, owner of Tregwilym Care Home, in Newport, where 19 residents have died, said that, although he could not be certain, he feared the virus entered the home with a patient discharged from hospital.

It has been revealed that a third of all coronavirus deaths in Wales have taken place in care homes. (Stock image)

Mr Gething said the Welsh government ‘changed the approach on testing people who were leaving hospital’ on April 22. But by then it was too late for many. More than 1,200 died in Welsh care homes in April – 700 more than in the same month last year.

Phil Crean’s mother Joyce was among them. She was discharged after treatment for a stroke, into the Romilly Care Home, in Cardiff. Unbeknown to her family, coronavirus was already present. She died ten days after arriving.

Mr Crean said: ‘(It is) an absolute disgrace. It’s basically throwing sheep to the wolves.’ 

BBC Wales Investigates: Testing Time in Care – BBC One Wales at 20:05 tonight.

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