“I can tell the House that the number of discharges from hospitals into care homes actually went down in March and April”

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister's Questions

May 13, 2020

Facts

Johnson told the House of Commons at PMQs that “the number of discharges from hospitals into care homes actually went down in March and April”

It is not clear what measure of comparison is being used here by the Prime Minister. According to the Coronavirus Lessons Learnt To Date report, “Around 25,000 people were discharged from hospitals into care homes between 17 March and 15 April 2020, and while the total number is smaller than in the preceding year due to significantly lower admissions, during the critical weeks in early March there was a marked increase in the number of discharges to care homes compared to the previous year.”

The same report also stated "In order to free acute hospital beds in anticipation of the first wave of the pandemic, NHS providers were instructed to urgently discharge all medically fit patients as soon as it was clinically safe to do so, and care home residents were not tested on their discharge from hospital.”

By May 2020, more than 11,600 people had died from Covid-19 in care homes.

Verdict

Boris Johnson’s answer should be assessed in the light of the later Coronavirus Lessons Learnt report finding that “during the critical weeks in early March there was a marked increase in the number of discharges to care homes compared to the previous year.” However it is not completely clear what comparator he was thinking of, so it is unfair to accuse him of misleading the Commons. He can reasonably be accused of minimising the severity of the crisis in care homes at this crucial time. 

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