CARE homes in Shropshire were “very responsible and cautious” when asked to accept untested patients leaving hospital during the early days of the pandemic, senior council bosses have said.

Before mid-April, asymptomatic patients leaving hospital were not screened for coronavirus and all asked to self-isolate for two weeks, but Tanya Miles, the Assistant Director for Adult Social Care and Housing, told councillors most residential care providers “indicated they weren’t prepared to accept admissions without a test”.

She and Commissioning and Governance Service Manager Deborah Webster were presenting the Shropshire Care Home Covid-19 Support and Resilience Plan. Speaking to the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Ms Miles praised residential and domiciliary care providers across Shropshire, who she said had been “bombarded” with “ever-changing guidance”, including 13 directives within one four-week period”.

“If I’m honest, in that first week, what kept me awake at night was what we would do if our care workers refused to go into our work, as we saw in France and Spain,” she said.

“But they never did, they went in every day with all these challenges and supported the people in Shropshire so, so well.”

Ms Miles said that, in the early stage of the pandemic, “the advice to care homes that were prepared to take a patient coming out of hospital was that they should self-isolate for 14 days following discharge”.

She added: “Testing for all discharges, regardless of the presence of symptoms, wasn’t implemented until around April 16.

“The majority of our providers indicated they weren’t prepared to accept admissions without a test or where there was a positive Covid indication prior to discharge.”

Ms Webster said: “I think one of the things that we have seen with Shropshire care homes is a very responsible level of caution around hospital discharges, even prior to national guidance regarding tests on discharge.

“We did not see the kinds of numbers of infections coming out of hospitals that were seen elsewhere in the country. I think, nationally, there were something like 23,000 people discharged without tests, and elsewhere they are seeing some suggestion of infection having come from that.

“But we didn’t see that in Shropshire because we do have particularly successful discharge process and I think this was built on the back of the homes being particularly cautious around accepting people from hospital. They were asking for those tests from the hospital system prior to it being national.”