Council leaders have called on the government to prioritise social care, as new figures highlight the impact coronavirus is having on care homes across the country.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday (14 April), show 3,475 deaths, which mentioned coronavirus on the certificate, were registered in the week ending 3 April.
The data also shows 406 of these deaths occurred outside of hospitals – 217 of them in care homes.
‘The latest comparable data for deaths involving COVID-19 with a date of death up to 3 April, show there were 6,235 deaths in England and Wales,’ said head of health analysis and life events at the ONS, Nick Stripe.
‘When looking at data for England, this is 15% higher than the NHS numbers as they include all mentions of COVID-19 on the death certificate, including suspected COVID-19, as well as deaths in the community.
‘The 16,387 deaths that were registered in England and Wales during the week ending 3 April is the highest weekly total since we started compiling weekly deaths data in 2005,’ added Mr Stripe.
The president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Julie Ogley said it was ‘extremely concerned and distressed’ by growing reports of the numbers of people who are dying in care homes and in their own homes.
‘We want to see a significant rebalancing of the government’s approach to Covid-19,’ said Ms Ogley.
‘There are two fronts in our response to Covid-19; social care colleagues and family carers are the first line of defence – protecting our communities, at huge risk to their own health and shielding the NHS from catastrophic demand that would overwhelm it.
‘Their work is so often overlooked, yet they are giving so much for all of us and the government must give them the tools they need to do their vital work. There are key risks of more deaths amongst those supported by social care than people in hospital.’
The ONS statistics come after a letter signed by the leaders of the Alzheimer’s Society, Marie Curie, Age UK, Care England and Independent Age warned the deadly disease is causing ‘devastation’ in the care sector.
The chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, added: ‘Every death to this disease is a tragedy and our thoughts and sympathies are with all those affected. These figures begin to shine a light on the impact of coronavirus in care settings and on older and disabled people who use social care services.
‘They are another stark reminder of the severe pressures facing care providers and the desperate need to ensure key issues, such as personal protective equipment, testing and safe discharge from hospital are urgently prioritised.
‘Social care staff are at the forefront of responding to the coronavirus. They are doing an incredible and dangerous job in extremely challenging circumstances,’ added Cllr Hudspeth.
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