The devastating impact of coronavirus in the care home sector has been revealed by new statistics which show the extent of deaths among staff and residents.
The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show that for the first time, deaths in care homes accounted for more than half of the total number of coronavirus deaths.
Care home industry representatives said that government figures have underestimated the impact of coronavirus across the sector greatly.
The ONS figures show 42,173 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to May 15 – significantly higher than 33,998 total reported by the Department of Health at the time.
On May 9 there were 214 deaths in care homes in patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 – 51% of the total virus-deaths on that day.
Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation, said that the figures illustrate the “huge” loss of life in care homes and the need for “sustained government action” to avoid a further spike in avoidable deaths.
She said: “There have been 11,650 COVID-19 related deaths in care homes in England and Wales so far. While the number of weekly deaths in care homes appears to be falling, excess deaths are still significantly above the five year average – and national figures mask differences in deaths between regions and population groups.”
The Health Foundation has published figures which show that care homes in London and the North have been worse hit by COVID-19 than other regions in England.
The figures also show that social care staff – mostly women – are around twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as other adults.
Dr Dixon said: “Government action on social care during the pandemic so far has been slow.
“The ‘action plan’ for social care was published nearly a month after the lockdown was introduced. Protecting vulnerable people needing social care should be given more obvious priority. Targeted action to tackle local outbreaks in care homes must include effective testing and tracing and ensuring consistent supplies of PPE to prevent a further spike in avoidable deaths.”