As many as 7,500 care home residents could have died from the coronavirus, Care England has said.
CEO Professor Martin Green OBE told the Daily Telegraph the figure was significantly higher than the 1,400 deaths estimated by the government last week.
Martin said: “Without testing, it is very difficult to give an absolute figure. However, if we look at some of the death rates since 1 April and compare them with previous years’ rates, we estimate a figure of about 7,500 people may have died as a result of Covid-19.”
Care England’s comments came after the National Care Forum (NCF) estimated there had been 4,040 care home deaths in UK residential and nursing homes up to April 13.
Data collected by the NCF revealed a doubling of care home deaths within one week to 2,500.
Executive Director of the National Care Forum, Vic Rayner, called on the government to form a “ring of steel” around care homes, including the right PPE equipment, medical monitoring devices, rapid and comprehensive testing, proper funding and intensive research to safeguard the people they care for.
The NCF also highlighted the significant flaws in the current reporting of care home deaths, with the latest ONS figures reporting just 217 deaths up to April 3.
Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the CQC, has pledge to work with the ONS and Public Health England on providing a “more detailed and timely picture of the impact of COVID-19 on adult social care”.
Barchester Healthcare CEO, Dr Pete Calveley, has said that COVID-19 is far more widespread in care homes than has been acknowledged with 50% of his homes having suspected or confirmed cases.
The Barchester boss said the provider had seen 196 COVID-19 related deaths across almost a third of homes.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and that is why we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this global pandemic.
“Our adult social care action plan sets out how we are protecting workers by ramping up testing across the system for care workers and their families and we’re ensuring millions of additional PPE items reach those on the frontline with Local Resilience Forums identifying those most in need of more. The Secretary of State has written to local authorities outlining how the £1.6bn funding for local authorities should support adult social care providers and workers. To ensure this additional funding is making a difference we are asking local authorities to provide information about the distribution of this funding to providers.”