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Ministers urged to build ‘ring of steel’ around care homes

Experts have called on the government to build a ‘ring of steel’ around UK care homes, as new figures claim the number of COVID-19 related deaths in them has almost doubled in one week. 

The figures released by the National Care Forum show that more than 2,500 care home residents may have died in the homes of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 during in the week ending 13 April  – a 193% increase on the previous seven days.

These figures are based on a survey of 47 care home providers, which support more than 30,000 people around the UK.

According to the Forum, if the survey findings were reflected across the entire care home sector then a total of 4,040 people may have died of this illness within UK residential and nursing services before April 13. 

And if the deaths of individuals who were admitted to hospitals are also factored in, the Forum estimate the total figure is around 7,337.

There have been growing concerns since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that many care home residents, and possibly staff as well, would be vulnerable to COVID-19.

Last week, 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. 

Since then, the British government has announced that all care home residents and social care staff with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms in England will be tested.

The executive director of the National Care Forum, Vic Rayner said the government must act immediately and build a ‘ring of steel’ around care homes.

‘They need the right PPE equipment, medical monitoring devices, rapid and comprehensive testing, proper funding and intensive research to safeguard the people they care for,’ said Ms Rayner. 

‘These services have desperately strived to continue to care for their residents in their home throughout the crisis, and in doing so helped maintain capacity within the NHS. We need to ensure that proper support is provided now to sustain our essential care services now and for the future.

‘This virus is not going away, so this has to be a wake up call to government and society as a whole to recognise that the ‘whatever it takes’ mantra has to be applied equally to the most vulnerable in social care, as we have to the NHS,’ she added. 

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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