LONDON – Over 4,000 care home deaths attributed to coronavirus took place in care homes in England and Wales in the last two weeks, official figures showed today.
Care homes notified the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of a total of 4,343 deaths of residents in homes between April 10 and 24 in England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
It is the first time the CQC death notifications for suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in care homes have been published.
The figures raise the total UK coronavirus death toll to over 25,000.
Care home operators said they feared the sector will become “sadly the most affected area of society in terms of deaths from Covid-19”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Nick Ferrari on LBC today that people in care homes who go to hospital for non-Covid reasons will not be discharged until they are known not to have the virus.
Victor, from Loughton, Essex, who runs a care home, asked the Health Secretary during the LBC phone-in about the virus in care homes after 12 of his residents died when someone with Covid-19 was moved in.
Mr Hancock said: “I’m not going to say, you know, it’s a matter for the care home; it’s actually a matter for all of us, and exactly as Victor says, because you know, when this horrible disease gets into a care home, some of the people who are most vulnerable to it live in care homes.
“One thing that we’ve done is introduced testing for everybody leaving hospital going to care homes to avoid the situation that Victor talks about.”
He also addressed Victor’s concerns about PPE in private care homes and said: “The responsibility sits on my shoulders.
“Because of the need to increase the amount of PPE, we’ve stepped up and put in place extra processes and allow the access to the NHS PPE distribution and expanded that to care homes.”
Prior to April 10, there were 1,000 deaths registered in care homes said Nick Stripe, head of health analysis.
The ONS said there had been a further 1,220 deaths attributed to Covid-19 which occurred outside hospital, excluding care home deaths, in England and Wales up to April 17.
– 883 took place in private homes
– 190 in hospices
– 61 in other communal establishments, and
– 86 elsewhere
The ONS and CQC figures added together make a total of 6,563 deaths outside hospital.
The ONS’s weekly release also showed the total number of deaths involving Covid-19 in England up to April 17 (and which were registered up to April 25), was 39% higher than the equivalent NHS total.
The ONS figures show there were 21,284 deaths involving Covid-19 over that period, compared with 15,293 deaths in hospitals in England for the same period, reported by NHS England.
This is because the ONS figures include all mentions of Covid-19 on a death certificate, including suspected Covid-19, as well as deaths in the community.
The NHS figures only include deaths in hospitals where a patient has been tested for Covid-19.
Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group (ICG), said those in care and nursing homes who have died “deserve better”.
He said: “Due to the lag in collating these figures, we do fear that the true number of people who have died in care and nursing homes since the start of coronavirus may be higher than these figures suggest. It may well be that they are increasing whilst hospital deaths are falling.
“We hope not, but it might be that the numbers will actually be higher.
“Social care providers are now on the true front line in the fight against Covid-19 and we need more support.”
Overall in England and Wales, almost four in 10 deaths up to April 17 (39.2%) were coronavirus-related.
There were 22,351 provisional deaths registered in England and Wales over the seven days – 11,854 more than the five-year average.
Of these, 8,758 mentioned “novel coronavirus”.