Coronavirus outbreak: Deaths in UK care homes doubled to 2,500 in 7 days

Updated: 20 April, 2020 08:23 IST | Agencies | London

he NCF said the data should be a wake up call to the government and society as a whole to recognise that its official whatever it takes approach has to be applied equally

Pictures with messages of hope and support for the NHS are seen at a College. Pic/AFP
Pictures with messages of hope and support for the NHS are seen at a College. Pic/AFP

Covid-19 related deaths within the UK's care homes for the elderly and vulnerable doubled within just one week, according to data collected and analysed by a leading representative body for the not-for-profit adult social care sector. The National Care Forum (NCF) report, released on Saturday, demonstrates 2,500 deaths within care homes within seven days, figures which it says highlights significant flaws in the current national reporting of coronavirus related death toll in the UK. It is hoped that this analysis will provide insight and impetus for the government to better address the needs of the care sector, the NCF said. The group's research came as pressure mounts on the British government to start counting deaths within the wider community and care homes to its daily hospital toll figures, which hit 15,464 on this week. Amid concerns that the national statistics presented by the government for coronavirus related mortality rates were not incorporating figures of deaths within residential and nursing homes, the NCF said it led an independent benchmarking exercise.

As many as 47 of its care provider members contributed to the audit, representing 1,169 care services that collectively support 30,217 people across the UK - 7.4 per cent of the overall residential care sector population. The resulting sample analysis suggests that a total of 4,040 people may have died of the deadly virus within UK residential and nursing services before April 13.

The figure of more than 4,000 people passing away of Covid-19 within care homes in little more than one month is devastating. Every death is a loss and a tragedy, said Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum. It is even more worrying to see a virtual doubling of deaths within homes in just one week, clearly indicating that whilst all attention has been on managing the peak in hospitals, the virus has attacked our most vulnerable communities, she said. The NCF said the data should be a wake up call to the government and society as a whole to recognise that its official whatever it takes approach has to be applied equally.

By highlighting the scale of the tragedy, we are giving the government an opportunity to respond with equal effort. It must act immediately and build a `ring of steel' around care homes. They need the right PPE [personal protective equipment], medical monitoring devices, rapid and comprehensive testing, proper funding and intensive research to safeguard the people they care for, Rayner added. The UK's Department of Health has repeatedly explained the focus on hospital deaths in its daily death toll tally on the time lag involved in care home deaths being collated. "Every death from this virus is a tragedy and that is why we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this global pandemic," a DoH spokesperson said.

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First Published: 20 April, 2020 07:47 IST

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