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Pelham House care home in Folkestone 'let down by system' after resident discharged from William Harvey Hospital in Ashford before Covid-19 test result

A care home says it has been "let down by the system" after 18 of its 20 residents have contracted Covid-19.

Pelham House in Folkestone believes those who live at the home have been " treated in a deplorable way", after one resident, a 96-year-old veteran, returned from William Harvey Hospital, in Ashford, before receiving a Covid-19 test result.

Pelham House care home, Folkestone
Pelham House care home, Folkestone

Over the past week, 17 more residents have been infected, and nine staff are off, either having tested positive or self-isolating, including manager Matt Stacey and a cook.

On top of this, four residents have sadly died and several others are either receiving or are close to needing end of life care.

According to the latest Government advice, published on Wednesday, "patients can and should be discharged before resolution of symptoms provided they are deemed clinically fit" but "all patients discharged to a care facility should be tested for Covid-19 48 hours prior to discharge and that result relayed to the receiving organisation."

East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust, which is responsible for William Harvey, says Government guidelines were followed, arguing the 96-year-old was treated in the emergency department, not as an in-patient, which means the situation is different.

It cites a document published on Wednesday, April 15, which says: "We will move to institute a policy of testing all residents prior to admission to care homes. This will begin with all those being discharged from hospital and the NHS will have a responsibility for testing these specific patients, in advance of timely discharge.

Care home owner, Roger Waluube
Care home owner, Roger Waluube

"Where a test result is still awaited, the patient will be discharged and pending the result, isolated in the same way as a Covid-positive patient will be."

A spokesman for the trust said: "The patient came to our A&E department from his care home with coronavirus symptoms on Wednesday, May 13.

"He was tested for Coronavirus, and the results confirm that he had the virus before coming to hospital.

"He did not need admitting to hospital, and the hospital followed government guidance by testing him for coronavirus before discharging him.

"There is support available for care homes who do not feel they can provide the appropriate care.

The symptomatic resident went to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford
The symptomatic resident went to William Harvey Hospital in Ashford

"The care home shared its concerns with the hospital about taking the patient back and the hospital raised the home’s concerns with the local Clinical Commissioning Group.

She added staff "later contacted the hospital to say it would accept the patient, and he was discharged.”

But the owner of the nursing facility, Roger Waluube, disputes this and says the patient should not have been released before test results were given.

Comparing the hospital's communications with the home as "organisational bullying", Mr Waluube said: "They put a huge amount of pressure on the manager, it's not right.

He said: "We were severely let down by the hospital which should have treated and cared for our resident preventing this contamination.

"If, as the hospital says, they stuck to Government policy, surely this doesn't mean they can't still listen to their own common sense and do things differently.

"Our resident didn't get the care or dignity he deserved and they refused to put him on a ward."

Mr Waluube said when he found out a resident had Covid-19, "it was one of the lowest points in (his) life.", and he was left "heartbroken and shattered".

This comes as the Government faces criticism for its handling of the pandemic in care homes, with the latest figures suggesting around 15,000 elderly residents have died with the virus.

Mr Waluube added: "Being at the forefront of care for the elderly, we felt vulnerable from an early stage of the Covid-19 crisis and we found we were having to fend for ourselves.

"The Government has failed in its responsibility to look after the most vulnerable citizens in our community. Neglect and mismanagement have undoubtedly put my residents and social care at insurmountable risk.

"We knew challenging times were coming, but never expected our elderly residents would be treated in such a deplorable way and the lack of meaningful practical support has been non-existent. It is unbearable to watch people suffer."

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