Image above: stock photo of a care home, not one in London. There is no suggestion that this care home has had an outbreak of the Coronavirus

Covid-19 deaths in Care homes published

The number of deaths in care homes involving Covid-19 have been published. Alongside the data on total number of deaths, broken down into small, localised areas, the Office of National Statistics has also published figures from the Care Quality Commission of deaths in Care homes, by local authority area, over the 15 day period 10 – 24 April.

The figures show a total of eight deaths in Hounslow, 31 in Ealing, 11 in Hammersmith & Fulham and 18 in Richmond. The disparity between Hounslow and Ealing may just reflect the total number of care homes in each borough: Hounslow has 29, to Ealing’s 49. Hammersmith & Fulham have only 10 homes compared with Richmond’s 40, according to the website carehome.co.uk, which lists all the care homes in London.

It’s not possible to tell whether the deaths are grouped in particular homes or spread across several, as the individual homes aren’t identified. But the issue of deaths in care homes has been highlighted in the media over the past few weeks because the extent of the spread of Covid-19 in care homes is only now being recognised.

Until last week, care home deaths were not even included in the official death toll. We learned from the Care Quality Commission’s figures published last week that there had been more than 4,300 deaths in care homes in a fortnight.

Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, said:

‘The numbers revealed today make it more important than ever that we 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.

‘The data clearly highlights what we have known for some time – that deaths in care homes are continuing to rise significantly. The numbers released today show tragically that deaths in care homes have doubled in the week 17 to 24 April due to COVID-19. From 10 to 17 April, CQC were notified of 1,968 deaths. Between 10 April and 24 April CQC were notified of 4,343 deaths. This is a rise of 2,375 in a week’.

Almost a third of care homes in England have reported Coronavirus outbreaks and on Saturday the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, James Bullion, said:

‘Important to understand that the position in care services is still worsening’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that as of last Wednesday care home deaths would be tracked in the same way as hospital deaths. The Health Secretary also promised that testing would be expanded to include people with Coronavirus symptoms aged over 65:

“Building on successful pilots, we will be rolling out testing of asymptomatic residents and staff in care homes in England, and to patients and staff in the NHS. This will mean that anyone who is working or living in a care home will be able to get access to a test whether they have symptoms or not,” Hancock said. “The spread of the virus though care homes is absolutely a top priority.”

Image above: stock photo of a care home, not one in London. There is no suggestion that this care home has had an outbreak of the Coronavirus

Unexplained gap in the figures

It may be that the actual death totals from Covid-19 are higher than the figures registered. Across the whole of the UK the number of deaths is significantly up on the average for this time of year, yet not all the increase is accounted for by deaths attributed to the Coronavirus. There is quite a significant gap.

In Week 14 of 2020, (week ending 3 April), 16,387 deaths were registered in England and Wales, 6,082 more than the average for corresponding weeks in previous years.  3,475 were recorded as deaths involving Covid-19.

In Week 15 of 2020, (week ending 10 April), 18,516 deaths were registered in England and Wales, 7,996 more than the average for corresponding weeks in previous years, 6,213 were recorded as deaths involving Covid-19.

In Week 16 of 2020, (week ending 17 April), 22,351 deaths were registered in England and Wales, 11,854 more than the average for corresponding weeks in previous years, 8,758 were recorded as deaths involving Covid-19.

This still leaves 2,607, 1,783 and 3,096 “extra” people dying during those three weeks. Fullfact.org has crunched the numbers and written a very good article about it, which you can read here.

‘This is the gap in our knowledge where many of the answers to our questions about the “true” death toll will lie’ they say. ‘The most obvious guess is the simplest: that all those unexplained extra deaths in care homes and private residences are in fact Covid-19 deaths, and we’re undercounting the size of the epidemic’.

The gap representing an unexplained rise in deaths is found in other countries, for which fullfact.org also has the figures.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Residents in sheltered housing alarmed by lack of Coronavirus care

See also: Covid-19 positive resident removed from Garden Court sheltered housing