The government is facing the prospect of a judicial review over its handling of the coronavirus crisis in care homes.
Dr Cathy Gardner, whose father died in a care home of suspected COVID-19, has decided to take legal action against the health secretary Matt Hancock, NHS England and Public Health England.
Lawyers representing Dr Gardner said she does not believe that the comments made last month by Mr Hancock of a ‘protective ring around our care homes’ bear any relation to the reality of government policies and actions in relation to care homes during the pandemic.
Furthermore, the legal firm Sinclairslaw said she is seeking assurance that appropriate policies are put in place to protect residents in care homes and that Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock publicly accept responsibility for the mistakes that have been made.
‘I am appalled that Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State, can give the impression that the government has sought to cast a protective ring over elderly residents of care homes – and right from the start,’ said Dr Gardner.
‘The truth is that there has been at best a casual approach to protecting the residents of care homes; at worst the government have adopted a policy that has caused the death of the most vulnerable in our society.
‘It is completely unacceptable that this happened and that responsibility has been avoided. I have therefore instructed my lawyers to threaten legal proceedings against the government for the harm that has been suffered by my father,’ she added.
Paul Conrathe, a human rights solicitor with Sinclairslaw added: ‘The State is under a duty to protect its citizens from harm. It is also under a duty to act fairly and not discriminate against the elderly and those with disabilities.
‘The actions of the secretary of state, NHS England and Public Health England in putting residents of care homes and care workers at risk of COVID-19 infection seriously violated the human rights of the most vulnerable in our society. I have therefore written to them requesting that they accept responsibility for their unlawful decisions and policies. If they fail to do so then my client will initiate proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review.’
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