A whistleblower has claimed elderly Covid-19 patients are being sent to care homes 'to die' as part of a longstanding culture of freeing up hospital beds.
The source, whose work means they have close connections with care homes in the UK, alleged that people are currently being discharged from hospital before their coronavirus test results are known.
As a result, patients risk missing out on crucial treatment - contributing to the care home sector's soaring death toll, which currently stands at 3,096 to the week ending 17th April.
The number of residents dying of any cause has almost tripled in a month, from around 2,500 per week in March to 7,300 in a single week in April. More than 2,000 of the latter were confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Discharging patients with coronavirus to care homes also increases the risk they will spread it to other residents, raising fears of a spike in deaths.
A whistleblower has claimed elderly Covid-19 patients are being sent to care homes 'to die' as part of a longstanding culture of freeing up hospital beds. Pictured: stock image
The source, who did not wish to be named, told FEMAIL: 'I don't know why people aren't asking, why are all these people dying in residential homes?
'While they're commenting on the fact people in residential homes are dying, and it's horrendous, but if you look into it closer, why are these people not hospital?'
They added that government strategies over the years which put emphasis on clearing beds have led to hospital bosses becoming 'accountants', treating people like numbers.
They referenced the Delayed Discharge Act of 2003 which was replaced by the Care Act in 2014 - one of the aims of which is to ensure people do not remain in hospital when they no longer require care that can only be provided in an acute trust.
Their chilling claims come in the wake of a government document which advised hospitals 'to free up NHS capacity via rapid discharge into the community and reducing planned care'.
The plan, drafted on March 17, told NHS hospitals that 'timely discharge' was important - and told care homes to accept patients who had not even been tested for coronavirus. It has since been updated saying the policy 'will move' to patients being tested prior to admission to care homes.
'On paper that sounds lovely, and they're saying that they can turn the test round in a few hours,' the source told FEMAIL.
The source, who did not wish to be named, told FEMAIL that government strategies over the years which put emphasis on clearing beds has led to hospital bosses becoming 'accountants', treating people like numbers. Pictured: stock image
'In reality that's not happening, it's taking days, and they're sending people back before they've got the test results. So really, what's the point of testing them?
'Then everyone else at that care home is at a massive risk. The problem is, there's been the big outcry about the PPE in care homes, and people are just accepting these are elderly people that probably have something wrong with them.
'That's not the point at all. The point is these people should be in hospital getting treated, not left to die in a care home. It's against their human rights.
'I was told, anecdotally, that they expect 50 per cent of people who go into care homes with [Covid-19] to die.'
A graph presented by the Government this week showed that increasing numbers of people are dying outside of hospitals and, in the week up to April 17, care home victims accounted for around a quarter of the total
Another whistleblower working at a coronavirus-stricken care home where at least nine residents are reported to have died has claimed ‘infected patients were allowed to walk around freely’.
In the past two weeks at least nine deaths are reported to have occurred at Jewel House care home in Bingham, Edinburgh, run by the City of Edinburgh Council.
Another ten residents are believed to have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a concerned member of staff, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Edinburgh Evening News.
The whistleblower claimed deaths could have been ‘better prevented if senior staff followed guidelines accordingly’.
The source said: 'There have been nine deaths within the last two weeks and a further ten residents have tested positive for Covid-19.
'We feel this could have been better prevented if senior staff, management and team leaders followed the guidelines accordingly.'
The Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership has promised to launch a probe, as Labour MP Ian Murray called for an investigation.
The insider claimed residents who had received a positive diagnosis were allowed to walk around freely and criticised infection control measures, saying staff had been left without adequate protection.
It was claimed six workers had tested positive for the virus. The source added: “This is very upsetting and distressing for all care staff having to deal with this on every shift and having the worry of catching this virus.
'This virus has spread quickly due to senior staff slacking on guidelines.'
Mr Murray said: 'These are concerning claims which need to be investigated. It’s important that guidelines are followed for the safety of both residents and staff.'
A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate said: 'We have been notified of the circumstances and we are in contact with the care service and the local health and social care partnership.'
A spokesman for the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership said: 'Our priority is always the safety and wellbeing of residents and staff in our care homes and we’re carefully following government guidance as laid out by Health Protection Scotland.
'Staff are being equipped with the appropriate PPE and where there is a suspected COVID-19 case in a care home, testing of residents is carried out within the appropriate guidance on testing.
'We take all allegations about the wellbeing of our staff and residents very seriously and will investigate all complaints that are made to us. Directors of Public Health in Scotland have been given a lead role in supporting the wider plan for care homes are contacting and, where appropriate, visiting homes with our own teams to provide support, training and guidance as necessary.
'This is in addition to the homes’ own robust training and the guidance from Health Protection Scotland which is