In March last year, Government guidelines allowed recovering coronavirus patients to be discharged into care homes without being tested. Leaked guidelines shared to nursing providers suggest a return to the policy, proposing coronavirus patients can be discharged straight into care homes without a negative test.
The proposed NHS guidance said clinicians should review patients who previously tested positive for coronavirus and “are within 90 days from their illness onset and test date” against two considerations.
It suggested if patients have “no new COVID-19 symptoms and COVID-19 exposure”, and if they have “completed the appropriate isolation period”, they can be sent straight to a care home.
It added: “The person does not require a further Covid-19 test in the 48 hours prior to discharge.”
The guidances also holds patients who do not meet the criteria must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to care facilities.
Previously the NHS guidance for care homes held patients must first have been transferred to a specific facility to self-isolate for 14 days, but it has been updated due to instances where a person who tested positive may not be infectious.
It added: “We are now advising that for some within this group it will be appropriate for them to move directly to a care home from hospital provided that they meet the considerations described in this note, because we now know they do not pose an infection risk to other residents in a care home.”
“As our knowledge about the COVID-19 virus increases, it is right we update our guidance to clinicians and practitioners to reflect our current understanding of the impact of the virus.”
The note also clarifies the discharge policy for those within 14 days of their first positive coronavirus test “does not change”, and they should still be discharged to a “designated setting”.
The UK has recorded another 47,525 cases of coronavirus and 1,564 deaths within 28 days of a positive test yesterday.
In total, the UK has seen 3,211,576 cases and 84,767 deaths.
It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced earlier this week close to 25 percent of elderly care home residents have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
He added in response to SNP health spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford: “If you look at the rollout of the programme as she said over a quarter of residents have had the jab and that number is rising sharply.”
A total of 2,661,850 vaccinations have been carried out in the UK as of Tuesday, with 2,254,556 of those being first doses.
NHS England also said all coronavirus vaccination centres are “expected” to have given the first dose of the jab to care home residents by January 24.
Following a change on policy prioritising giving out the first dose of the jab to all care home residents and staff, a letter from the national health body said all Primary Care Networks (PCNs) should finish vaccinations by the end of the week, and in ten days time at the latest.
PCNs have been told they will receive £30 for any resident vaccinated from the start of the programme to January 17, in addition to the standard £12.58 service payment.