The government has confirmed coronavirus outbreaks at more than 2,000 care homes in England, while care leaders say the official death toll is being underreported.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed that 2,099 care homes in England have reported outbreaks while the government’s chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty reported yesterday that 92 care homes had reported outbreaks in one day.
Age UK director, Caroline Abrahams told the BBC that older people were being “airbrushed” out of the official death toll, however, which has only covered people who die in hospital but not those in care homes or in their own homes.
New year to date figures, including care homes and people dying at home, for the period up to April 3, show there were 217 care home deaths but Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, told The Guardian that the real figure was probably closer to 1,000.
Martin said: “We are seeing underreporting of the number of deaths. Deaths might not be in the thousands yet, but it is coming up to that level. We need a proper analysis of death rates occurring across care homes, and the government should be collecting this data.”
A DHSC spokesperson said: “We are determined to give the social care sector the support it needs to respond to coronavirus and continue to work closely with Public Health England to monitor the impact on cares homes.
“The government has announced £2.9bn to help local authorities respond to pressures in key services, such as adult social care, and enhance the NHS discharge service, allowing patients to return home safely. We have published extensive guidance for care homes on admitting and caring for people during the outbreak, and we are reinstating the professional registration of 8,000 former social workers to fill vital roles in the community.
“We have also delivered 7.8m pieces of PPE to more than 26,000 care settings across the country and are rapidly working to extend testing to social care workers.”
The latest statistics were published after Care UK reported that 13 people had died with coronavirus symptoms at it Stanley Park care home in Stanley, County Durham.