Source: The Guardian
The number of care home residents who have died from coronavirus could be more than five times the government’s estimate, the sector’s main charity has warned.
Care England, Britain’s largest representative body for care homes, told the Daily Telegraph that up to 7,500 care home residents may have died of the virus.
This is significantly higher than the figure of 1,400 people estimated to have died by the government earlier this week.
“Without testing, it is very difficult to give an absolute figure,” Martin Green, the chief executive of Care England, said. “However, if we look at some of the death rates since 1 April and compare them with previous years’ rates, we estimate a figure of about 7,500 people may have died as a result of Covid-19.”
The figure is also significantly higher than the 217 care home deaths recorded in the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which runs up to 3 April.
The official death toll in Britain topped 15,000 on Saturday, but this only includes data recorded in hospitals. This data can take some days to register, and does not include deaths in the community, such as those occurring in care homes.
Public Health England said there were 3,084 care homes with Covid-19 outbreaks in England, as of 15 April.
The ONS said this week that its data indicated that deaths in hospital accounted for approximately 85% of all coronavirus fatalities in the country, a figure cast in doubt by Care England’s estimation.
Care England has not published the data behind its estimation, but the health secretary, Matt Hancock, told the health and social care committee on Friday that figures for care home deaths would be published “very shortly”.
Earlier this week, the head of Public Health England, Prof Yvonne Doyle, said agencies were working towards producing “much more rapid data, preferably on a daily basis”.
Caroline Abrahams, the director of Age UK, described the new estimation as “heartbreaking”.
“This is a shocking and utterly heartbreaking estimate that will send a chill down the spine of anyone with a loved one living in a care home,” she said. ”As we have feared for some time, what’s going on in care homes – not only here but in many other countries too – is a tragedy in the making.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said “every death from this virus is a tragedy”, and said people were “working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need”.
He added: “As a government, we have a duty to report verified information. It is important that we have the best possible reliable data to know how many deaths there are, wherever they occur.
“In an important step forward, ONS are now providing a breakdown of deaths by place of occurrence. We are currently working with CQC [Care Quality Commission] and other organisations to understand how to best to provide up to date information about deaths in care homes and elsewhere.”