A CARE home boss has warned homes are being pressured into accepting hospital patients who have not been tested for coronavirus.

Susan McKinney of Wellburn Care, which runs fourteen care homes in the North-East and North Yorkshire, said staff had been "threatened" with police action if they did not accept an untested patient.

She said paramedics turned up to Eighton Lodge Care Home in Gateshead on April 10 and “refused” to leave until staff accepted a resident who had been discharged from hospital.

Ms McKinney, who said there were around 40 other residents living at the home at the time, said staff were left with no other option but to readmit the patient despite having concerns.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “We said we can’t accept this person back.

“We needed a negative test so that we know what we’re dealing with, because we wouldn’t know, whether we would have to isolate them or whether we didn’t.”

Ms McKinney said an ambulance team from Gateshead Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust “turned up” and refused to leave.

'There had been a stand-off'

She said: “There was a sort of stand-off at the home, family members turned up and paramedics had the poor resident on the stretcher at the door, and would not go away until we allowed them in.

“All we got was ‘you’re not following the guidelines’, which is a guideline, it’s not the law, we were threatened with police if we didn’t allow this person back in because it was their home.”

Ms McKinney said both the hospital, and ambulance service - belonging to the same trust - had been “adamant” they weren’t turning back despite staff concerns that the virus could be brought into the home.

In response, Gateshead Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said it could not comment on an individual case but said it had been following Government guidelines, adding that it would continue to deliver “high level” care and support to patients in homes.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: "No care home should be forced to take back recovering Covid-19 patients if they do not feel they can provide the appropriate care.

"If a care home provider does not feel they can provide the appropriate care, that individual’s local authority should secure alternative appropriate accommodation and care for the remainder of the required isolation period."

Concerns raised at a Newton Aycliffe care home

Ms McKinney’s comments came as a County Durham family claimed several residents had ‘displayed’ coronavirus symptoms following the admission of new residents at a care home in Newton Aycliffe.

Lewis Mairis, who has a relative living at Rose Lodge Care Home, claimed staff told her that a new intake of residents had not been isolated when they arrived.

Ms Maris said she had received a letter informing relatives that one resident had tested positive for the virus and that other residents had showed symptoms.

The care home, which recently took on new admissions to help Durham County Council free beds in ‘acute hospital’ settings, previously said it was following Government guidelines after concerns were first raised earlier this month.

Ms Mairis, who said she did not blame care home staff, said she believed the care system did not have policies in place to ensure new residents were placed into isolation from existing residents.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, she said: “I phoned Rose Lodge and I spoke to two members of staff and they said they had a new intake, and after that people were showing symptoms of the virus, and that those people were now being isolated.

“I was told that no members of staff had the virus, and said ‘how on earth’ could the virus have got in, they then said there had been this new intake and they weren’t isolated.

“I don’t want to blame the staff, it’s to try and save lives, isolation needs to be incorporated into the intake system from today and for the foreseeable.”

In response to Ms Mairis claims, a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson told The Northern Echo: “This virus sweeping the world can take a devastating grip on the most vulnerable people in society. Our deepest sympathies go out to families who have lost relatives to it.

“We are working around the clock to make sure care homes, and our frontline social care workforce, are getting the support they need to protect their residents and tackle coronavirus.

“Our help to care homes which includes financial support, infection control training and supplies of PPE, has meant that two thirds of England’s care homes have had no outbreak at all.”

  • The Northern Echo contacted Rose Lodge Care Home but they did not comment.