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A SMALL number of hospital patients were discharged into care homes in the Swansea Bay area on the assumption they didn’t have the coronavirus when in fact they did, according to a report.

The report said this was down to “miscommunication” between Public Health Wales, the health board and local authorities.

It said also said national guidance on mass testing of care home staff and residents took too long to develop, meaning that staff who didn’t show signs of illness but had Covid-19 could have been a possible source of infection.

The report by the West Glamorgan Regional Partnership Board, which aims to ensure a good delivery of health and social care services in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, also said good work had been carried out to protect the care home sector from the pandemic.

It added: “When identifying what went well and not so well, an element of hindsight inevitably comes into play, and must be guarded against.”

The report was requested to examine the extent of assurance the West Glamorgan Partnership could provide in relation to its work with care homes during the Covid-19 crisis.

It said there had been successes in sourcing personal protective equipment at a regional level, rather than relying on national supply chains which struggled to meet demand.

Care home testing, it added, was agreed as an overriding priority.

A regional position was also agreed that infection would not “knowingly” be transferred into care homes ahead of national guidance, but the report said the position still took too long to agree.

“Operational implementation of that principle was not as effective as it should have been, and therefore, some clinicians continued to operate on the basis that once an individual was medically fit for discharge they could be transferred to a care home setting, even if still Covid positive,” it said.

The report also said there was an acute national need to clear hospital beds from the middle of March for a possible surge in seriously ill patients. It pointed out that patients waiting to be discharged were at risk of being infected if they remained in hospital.

“The health and social care system is undoubtedly better placed to cope with future surges as a result of recent experiences and developments,” it said.

The report will be discussed at a Swansea Bay University Health Board meeting on July 30.

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