Nursing homes were pressured into accepting patients with coronavirus while simultaneously being refused treatment for residents by hospitals and GPs, according to research.
A report by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) found homes were told hospitals had a blanket “no admissions” policy at the height of the pandemic.
The QNI, a charity which focuses on the improvement of nursing care of people in their own home, found care home residents were regularly refused treatment in April and May.
Published by the Independent, the research found GPs and local managers in some homes had placed unlawful do not resuscitate orders on residents.
The survey of nurses and managers in 163 care homes across England, Wales and Northern Ireland found 56% said their physical and mental health had suffered due to the stress of the pandemic.
Seventy homes, 43% of those surveyed, said they had received a patient discharged from hospital during March or April that had not been tested for the virus.
A fifth said they had received a patient discharged from hospital who was Covid-19 positive.
One in four homes said it was difficult to get hospital treatment for patients, while a third said they had had difficulty accessing GPs and district nurses.
One nurse said: “The acute sector pushed us to take untested admissions.
“The two weeks of daily deaths during an outbreak were possibly the two worst weeks of my 35-year nursing career.”
Another reported being told to change the status of all the home’s residents to “do not resuscitate” but said staff had refused to comply.
Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the QNI, said she was worried by the number of homes that had been unable to access support from GPs, district nurses and hospitals.
“We were really surprised to see this,” she said.
“These are universal health services. It is completely opposite to the protective ring around care homes that was being talked about at the time.”
In April a report by NHS Providers, a body representing more than 200 NHS trusts in England, boasted that the health service had freed up 33,000 beds by “tearing up red tape” and overhauling discharge policies.
It said in a report that “the NHS has completely rewritten its discharge procedures in a week to enable a much more rapid discharge process,” adding “hospitals have discharged record numbers of patients in record time”.