Published: 16:41, 22 October 2020
| Updated: 16:42, 22 October 2020
At least seven care homes in Kent could be used to accommodate patients being discharged from hospital who test positive for coronavirus this winter.
The undisclosed sites have been described as "hot homes" by Whitehall bosses, with more than 100 beds expected to be made available in Kent.
This comes nine days after Boris Johnson's government issued a letter to all local authorities in England requesting they name potential care home sites that can be used for taking in Covid positive patients discharged from hospital.
Earlier today, Canterbury county councillor Ida Linfield (Lib Dem) pressed one of Kent County Council's (KCC) public health bosses on the "safety" measuresbeing put in place for care home workers during a virtual public meeting.
Cllr Clair Bell (Con), the cabinet member for public health at Maidstone County Hall, said: "Safety of the workforce is of paramount importance and this will be a key component of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) registration process."
The Garden of England has the highest number of registered care home beds in England - around 14,579 - but a quarter of all Covid-19 deaths in Kent were reported from care homes between March and June.
Health experts say that deaths could have been avoided if the government had not told the NHS to discharge elderly patients from hospitals without taking a Covid test.
More than 120 of the 543 care homes in Kent said in the summer that they had problems accessing personal protective equipment (PPE). Others struggled for swab tests while some could not isolate infected residents.
Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care asked local authorities to produce its winter plans by October 30, which includes care home support.
The proposals will cover a range of topics, including arrangements for hospital discharge, the need for extra bed capacity and measures in place to reduce the spread of Covid in the adult social care sector, such as residential homes.
However, a further letter was sent out to councils on October 13 asking local authorities to name specific care home sites that could be used for winter hospital discharge for patients testing positive with coronavirus.
Three days later on October 16, KCC and Medway Council jointly submitted a list of a potential seven sites with more than 100 beds, KCC's full council was told.
Details have been shared with the CQC, whose workforce will be conducting a review of the potential sites for registration and to "ensure compliance".
Cllr Bell said: "The proposed sites have been shared with CQC colleagues and they are in support of the numbers and the potential settings.
"The settings will be formalised after the CQC has conducted its inspections. At the current time we cannot identify which homes will be taking part."