The number of people dying from the coronavirus in care homes rose fourfold in a week to more than 1,000, according to the latest statistics published by the Office for National Statistics.
Publication of the figures comes amidst widespread criticism that the official figures are failing to reflect the true number of care deaths with Care England estimating they are closer to 7,500.
The government and CQC are working with Public England and the ONS to provide a more detailed and timely picture of care home deaths. It currently takes up to 11 days to process death certificates which may not always include COVID-19 as a cause of death.
Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, Kate Terroni, has said the CQC has made changes to its death notification system to enable a provider to report whether a person’s death was from suspected or confirmed coronavirus.
The Guardian has reported that five of the biggest care home providers alone have recorded more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths, with HC-One reporting almost 500 fatalities, Care UK recording 140 and Four Seasons Health Care suffering more than 160 deaths. Barchester Healthcare has reported almost 200 COVID-19 related deaths.
Commenting on the ONS data, UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “This doubling in deaths is shocking evidence of the government’s shambolic handling of the Covid crisis.
“The government has got to get its act together if we are to prevent more lives being needlessly lost.”
Michael Ainsley, GMB senior regional officer, added: “While national daily figures for deaths in NHS hospitals from Covid-19 appear to be plateauing, latest ONS figures show a very worrying trend for care homes.
“Government must prioritise the protection and care to carers and their residents or the ticking time bomb will go off.”