Cathy Gardner’s legal challenge over Care Homes also well publicised on the BBC

The national publicity Cathy Gardner’s story has received today (BBC and The Guardian) has helped to boost crowdfunding so that a new target of £50K has been set. She has already had to commit to the next formal set of legal actions because of time constraints. This is when costs begin to mount and crowdfunding becomes critical to her ability to continue.

The Government can be expected to reply at the last moment to spin things out. – Owl

Keep spreading the news! Holding the Government to account on Care Homes is something we should all support – Dr Cathy Gardner is leading the way on our behalves.

Coronavirus: Government sued over care home deaths ‘disgrace’

A woman who said goodbye to her dying father through a care home window is suing the government over his death.

Dr Cathy Gardner’s father, Michael Gibson, 88, died of probable Covid-19 related causes on 3 April.

Her case, which accuses the government of unlawfully exposing thousands of care home residents to serious harm, will be filed at the High Court today.

The Department for Health and Social Care said it could not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

Dr Gardner, from Sidmouth, Devon, said her father’s death was part of a “national disgrace”.

She added her case was about everybody, including care home residents, staff and the family members of those who had been put at risk or died.

More than 14,000 people have died from coronavirus in England and Wales care homes since the start of the pandemic.

The government has faced criticism for policies allowing patients to be discharged from hospitals into care homes without being tested for Covid-19.

Lawyers representing Dr Gardner sent a pre-action letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, NHS England and Public Health England on 2 June, demanding they admit those policies were unlawful.

The government has until Tuesday to respond but lawyer Paul Conrathe, representing Dr Gardner, said the case needed to be lodged on Friday before receiving a reply due to time limits.

“Legally the state is required to protect its citizens, protect their right to life,” he said.

“Our view is not only did they not protect them but they actively exposed them to harm.”

Mr Gibson, who had Alzheimer’s, was a resident at the Cherwood House Care Centre, near Bicester, Oxfordshire.


Changing advice

  • On 19 March, NHS guidance said “unless required to be in hospital, patients must not remain in an NHS bed”
  • On 2 April, the rules on discharging to care homes were clarified, saying “negative [coronavirus] tests are not required prior to transfers/admissions into the care home”
  • From 15 April, the government said all patients discharged from hospitals would be tested for coronavirus

Dr Gardner, who praised the care he was given there, was able to see him through a window the night before he died.

She said: “This was heart-breaking, it’s not how I imagined his last days would be.”

His cause of death was recorded as probable Covid-19-related but he had not been tested.

Dr Gardner’s lawyers claim that prior to his death the care home had been pressured into taking a hospital patient who had tested positive for Covid-19 but “had not had a temperature for about 72 hours”.

Dr Gardner, a microbiologist with a PhD in virology, said: “Somebody needed to take the lead and I thought … I can so I should.

“It is a national disgrace and it needs to be held up as such and not just brushed under the carpet.”

Dr Gardner, who is also chair of East Devon District Council, is crowdfunding to help cover legal fees and has so far raised £10,000. [Now raised to £50K – Owl]