The number of registered deaths in care homes has doubled in four weeks, according to official figures.
The figures published today (21 April) by the Office for National Statistics shows the number of deaths in care homes has risen from 2,471 deaths to 4,927 in the four weeks to 10 April – an increase of 99.4%.
The latest report also shows that care home deaths made up for more than a quarter (26.6%) of all registered deaths in the week ending 10 April.
In terms of registered deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19) up to that date, the ONS statistics show 8,673 deaths occurred in hospital and 1,043 occurred in care homes.
The remainder occurred in hospices (87) and private homes (466).
In London, more than half (53.2%) of all deaths registered in the week ending 10 April involved coronavirus, while in the West Midlands it accounted for 37% of deaths in the region.
The figures come just a few days after the National Care Forum warned 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.
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.
Responding to the ONS figures, the general secretary of the trade union Unison, Dave Prentis said staff working in care homes and those looking after people in the community have ‘been massively let down’.
‘The ongoing lack of protective kit has left many terrified they’ll spread this deadly virus or become infected themselves,’ said Mr Prentis.
‘There’s still widespread confusion among workers and their employers over what equipment they should have. Some staff are being told off for wearing masks, while others can’t even get hold of hand sanitiser, according to reports still coming into UNISON’s PPE alert hotline.
‘The government has got to get its act together if we are to prevent more lives being needlessly lost,’ added the trade union leader.
Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said the sharp rise in care home deaths was ‘deeply alarming’.
‘This could be the second front in the battle against Covid-19 and we need to do everything we can to support the care sector with the right PPE, training and support in infection control and adequate funding,’ said Mr Dickson.
‘The social care action plan announced last week was welcome but it is clear more needs to be done.’
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