11:03, April 10 167 0 theguardian.com

2020-04-10 11:03:03
Judge orders mental health patient to vacate bed for Covid-19 cases

A high court judge has ruled a woman can be discharged from the hospital bed she has occupied for more than a year to relieve pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Justice Chamberlain ordered that the patient, known only as MB, must leave her ward at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The woman, who has mental health difficulties, is the sole occupant of a side room, where she is looked after by a 24-hour registered mental health nurse.

In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Chamberlain said the hospital stated that the need was “urgent because the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the bedroom is urgently needed for other patients” and because “it is contrary to MB’s interests to remain in the hospital, where she is at increased risk of contracting Covid-19”.

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Discussions relating to her care have been ongoing for more than a year. The hospital says the woman has been fit for discharge to specially adapted local authority accommodation, with a care package, since May 2019. It has twice tried to discharge her, but she has refused to cooperate.

She has a diagnosis of a functional neurological disorder and psychological conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, and a possible borderline personality disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. She needs helps with personal care, including washing dressing and toileting, it was reported.

The hospital issued an urgent claim last week for possession of her bedroom on a 12-patient ward. One doctor said in evidence: “We are now in desperate need of beds for patients unwell with Covid-19 and all patients who are medically fit for discharge are being discharged home or into other care arrangements that are deemed safe, as per the government’s guidance.”

Her lawyer argued that MB did want to be discharged, but was concerned that the care package was inadequate owing to her complex needs, and that she would be at risk of suicide or self harm.

In his ruling, the judge said that although it was distressing for the woman, it was safe for her to be discharged into specially adapted accommodation, with 24-hour care provided seven days a week.

A UCLH spokesperson said: “Our staff have worked tirelessly with Camden council over a significant time period to ensure that our patient has a home to go to, with care suitable for her needs. UCLH welcomes the court’s judgment, particularly at a time when hospital resources are in such high demand.”

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