Letter to send to care homes to challenge testing and plastic screens

Written by: Miri
May 11, 2021
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Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you regarding my relative, [name], who is currently a resident in your institution.

{Name] has a number of medical and cognitive challenges, including [health conditions]. She is a vulnerable individual who is acutely suffering the loss of daily close contact with family and friends, and has endured a great deal of separation and loss over the last [time frame], including the loss of her greatly-valued independence.  

Therefore, and as you can imagine, I am extremely keen to be able to visit [name] as soon as possible, and enable her to recommence the pattern of regular, close contact with loved ones, that is so critical to preserving the wellbeing of our older people. As you will know, loneliness and isolation are devastating to both mental and physical health, and are shown to be as detrimental as smoking, obesity, and poor diet (1).

However, I have been informed by the staff at your residence that, in order to be permitted to visit my relative, I must submit to lateral flow testing, and agree to see [name] behind a plastic screen.

I am not prepared to agree to these measures, and my rights to decline are protected under a number of laws and human rights' treaties, that I will elaborate on below.

In regards to lateral flow testing, I do not wish to receive such a test, and I would like to underline to [institution name] that my right to decline any medical diagnostic offered to me, without experiencing any form of penalty or disadvantage as a result, is protected by UNESCO's Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights, which states at Article 6, section 1:

"Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.” (2)

Please note this represents international human rights law, by which the UK is bound, and it cannot be overridden by any internal "policies" of private companies. All companies are still bound by the laws of the land in which they reside, and please note government advice surrounding testing is - as your own website affirms - merely 'guidance', and not law. 

In addition, the lateral flow test is recognised by authorities as being an inaccurate and unreliable indicator of viral infection. The Guardian newspaper issued a report earlier this year warning of the dangers and inadequacies of the lateral flow test. According to The Guardian, lateral flow devices are "inaccurate and may cause more harm than good" (3). The newspaper quotes Professor J. Deeks of Birmingham University and the Royal Statistical Society, and colleagues, who have stated in the British Medical Journal:

"The UK government is widening the rollout of the Innova lateral flow test without supporting evidence, and we understand that this may soon extend to further home use. This may cause serious harm. We call on the government urgently to change course.” (4)

As such, I wish to receive your swift acknowledgement that there will be no further pressure exerted upon me to receive a lateral flow test in order to visit my relative in your residence.

As a corollary to this, I would like to request you desist from administering these tests to my relative, [name]. Not only is there very little evidence they are effective, but they also represent a highly invasive and distressing experience, especially to individuals who are unable to clearly understand why they are being subject to such measures, something that will be the case for many of your residents.

I see from the policy on the [institution name] website that Covid testing on patients is done "multiple times per week", and I am concerned about the effect this will be having on my relative. There is no evidence that such a distressing experience represents a significant enough benefit to her to justify it being administered “multiple times per week”, while her cognitive challenges represent a substantial barrier to her being able to offer informed consent. I must therefore insist your staff desist from administering these tests to my relative, given that administering medical processes without informed consent represents a breach of the Montgomery ruling (5) and is therefore illegal.

Moving on, and regarding plastic screens, which you have stated will be a condition of our visit, I am not willing to engage with a loved one under such circumstances. Separating individuals in institutions from their family and friends by way of a plastic screen is a punitive measure used on convicts in prison; it is not appropriate nor justifiable to subject peaceful persons in voluntary residences to such impositions, especially when they are highly vulnerable, as my relative is.

[Name] would become highly distressed and agitated were she to be separated from me by a screen, and would not be able to understand why this measure was being imposed. The trauma this would cause her, in addition to the highly traumatic ordeal she has already endured via enforced separation from family and friends, greatly outweighs any theoretical risk factor to her of catching a coronavirus from me, a risk there is in any case no evidence a plastic screen would diminish (6). In addition, please note that I am a healthy individual with no symptoms of any illness, and asymptomatic transmission of viral infection is, as stated by the WHO, exceptionally rare (7).

These facts considered, it is abundantly clear that there is no compelling benefit to my relative, nor to myself, of being separated by a plastic screen, but there is a high degree of risk, in terms of the emotional and psychological distress my relative - a highly vulnerable individual, already enduring the deep distress of being forcibly separated from family and friends - would experience.

In closing, I expect to receive your prompt written acknowledgement that I will be welcomed into your residence to visit my relative as soon as possible, without any expectations that I undergo lateral flow testing, and that my relative and I will be not be forcibly separated by a plastic screen, nor will any other punitive or separation device be imposed upon us.

Please note I am receiving ongoing legal advice on this situation.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,



1) https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20180504/loneliness-rivals-obesity-smoking-as-health-risk

2) http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=31058&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

3) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/12/experts-call-for-rethink-lateral-flow-mass-testing-covid-uk

4) https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/01/12/covid-19-government-must-urgently-rethink-lateral-flow-test-roll-out/

5) https://www.themdu.com/guidance-and-advice/guides/montgomery-and-informed-consent

6)  https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/13/business/plexiglass-shields-coronavirus/index.html

7) https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/08/asymptomatic-coronavirus-patients-arent-spreading-new-infections-who-says.html

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