Amnesty International raised fears on Wednesday that these errors are being repeated, with leaked documents from councils to care homes asking them how many beds they can provide for Covid-positive patients.
While the documents ask care homes to set out their infection control measures, the charity wared that any pressure on homes to accept patients who tested positive for Covid would be like “throwing a lit match into a haystack”.
Mark Adams, the chief executive of Community Integrated Care, a charity that runs 18 care homes, said the Government move would “100 per cent” lead to closures because homes would be dangerously understaffed if some carers had to self-isolate because of exposure to Covid.
A recent outbreak at one of the charity’s homes saw 15 staff sent home to self-isolate after a resident who went into hospital underwent tests and was found to have Covid. If a provider was not allowed to bring in agency workers, they would not have enough staff to rely on in such circumstances, Mr Adams said.
Mike Padgham, the chairman of the Independent Care Group, which represents care homes across North Yorkshire, said a ban on moving staff between homes and limiting the use of agency workers would “make a tough job even tougher”.
Mr Padgam, the owner of Saint Cecilia’s Care Group, said: “Solving the problem of cross-infection is one thing, but then they have to do something about addressing the recruitment crisis in social care. They can’t take one action without addressing the other issue.”
The Government initially made £600 million available to care homes through its Infection Control Fund and recently announced a further £546 million. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are committed to preventing infections in care homes, protecting staff and residents and saving lives.
“Stopping staff movement in and between care settings is critical to minimise the risk of infection by Covid-19, and our Adult Social Care Winter Plan – backed by an extra £546 million – is clear that providers should limit all staff movement unless absolutely necessary.
“We have said that limitations on staff movement will be enforced through regulations, and we will come forward with detailed proposals in due course.”
Meanwhile, infection rates are slowing among young people who experts believe have been frightened into following social distancing rules amid increasing coronavirus death rates.
A Government “gold” meeting, chaired by Matt Hancock, heard an increase in cases after freshers’ week has been driven down and younger people have changed their behaviour, according to The Times.