Two women are set to begin legal action against the government at the High Court this week following the deaths of their fathers from coronavirus.
The landmark hearing is being brought by Fay Harris and Cathy Gardner whose dads were in care homes as the pandemic took hold last year.
They are set to argue that officials’ failure to protect care residents during the Covid-19 outbreaks was unlawful.
In just three months, between March and June 2020, more than 20,000 vulnerable residents in care homes across England and Wales died from the virus.
The case against the Department for Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England argues that policy decisions contributed to the huge death toll.
It also says the government breached its duty to protect care home residents and will look at policies such as the mass discharge of elderly and disabled patients from hospitals to care homes without testing or isolation.
Fay Harris' father, Don, was one of up to 24 people who died in his Hampshire care home during an outbreak of Covid last year.
The 58-year-old told The Times she hopes the case will give families answers.
She said: “I do not want anyone else to go through what we have been through as a family. I feel terrible guilt. I feel as though he was locked in to die.”
Don Harris, a former Royal Marine, died on May 1 last year following an outbreak at his care home in Alton, Hampshire.
Cathy Gardner's father Michael Gibson died in a care home in Oxfordshire last April aged 88, after a patient with Covid was discharged there from hospital.
The 66-year-old, who has a PhD in virology, said: “Matt Hancock’s ‘protective rings’ statement was a lie. The defendants have provided no evidence of measures to put a protective ring around care homes.”
The families’ lawyer, Paul Conrathe at Sinclairslaw, said: “This case will give thousands of families a sense that justice has been done if we win.
"What happened to the residents of care homes in the pandemic was a national scandal.
“The government’s approach to protecting vulnerable care home residents during the first wave of the pandemic is one of the most devastating failures in the modern era.
"Rather than their home being a safe place, it became a breeding ground for a deadly disease that claimed the lives of over 20,000 elderly and vulnerable people, including my clients’ fathers.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Every death is a tragedy and we have done everything we can to protect and prioritise care homes throughout this pandemic.
“We have provided billions of pounds to support the sector, including on infection and prevention control measures, free PPE, priority vaccinations and additional testing for staff and residents.
'We cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”Read More Read More