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European survey reveals England has lowest rate of COVID-19 care home deaths

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England has reported the lowest rate of COVID-19 deaths per total fatalities in a study of European nations.

The study by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) provides some welcome relief to the UK government which has come under increasing criticism for its handling of the care home crisis.

The research, using ONS data as of May 9, shows there were almost 7,000 COVID-19 care home fatalities in England, amounting to 21% of 33,000 fatalities. Wales reported a higher rate of 25%, while care home COVID-19 death rates in Scotland amounted to 45% of 3,200 COVID-19 fatalities as of May 10.

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Elsewhere, the share of care home fatalities per total ranged from 37% in Germany to 66% in Spain, which had seen 18,000 deaths officially reported in care facilities as of May 11.

Rates were also high in France (50%) which reported more than 13,500 COVID-19 care home deaths as of May 11, Belgium (51%), Norway (61%) and Stockholm, Sweden (45%). Italy, which has Europe’s second highest overall fatality rate after the UK, was not included in the research.

While the European comparison favoured England, it should be borne in mind that the ONS is generally accepted to be underreporting the true number of care home fatalities with the latest estimates suggesting that the ‘real’ death number of deaths is more than double their figure.

England’s protection of its care home community during the crisis bears further scrutiny when brought into comparison with Hong Kong which has seen no COVID-19 deaths at its 19 care homes.

Professor Terry Lum of Hong Kong University told a UK Parliamentary Select Committee yesterday that Hong Kong had achieved zero deaths by deploying strict infection control procedures ignored in the UK.

Professor Lum said Hong Kong had focused on preventing the spread of the virus to care homes from hospitals with positive people quarantined for up to three months, The Guardian reported.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “This is an unprecedented global pandemic which can sadly have a devastating effect on some of our most vulnerable people.

“Since the start of this pandemic we have worked tirelessly to ensure our care homes and frontline care workforce get the support they need.

‘’We have set out a comprehensive action plan to support the adult social care sector in England throughout the coronavirus outbreak, including making sure millions of PPE items are available and using our increased testing capacity to test care home residents and staff regardless of symptoms.’’

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The author Lee Peart

13 Comments

  1. Because, as the article makes clear, it’s “per total fatalities”!

    The UK’s ratio is lower because deaths in the general population have been far higher.

    It’s a measure of how bad the UK has done overall, rather than anything to celebrate re: care homes.

    1. no it isnt, they are comparing countries with virtually equivalent deaths overall, so your argument is total garbage!!

      1. No Nigel, they’re not “comparing countries with virtually equivalent deaths overall” as the article makes clear in the pre-amble.

    2. The deaths in the general population result from thecouldn’t-care-less attitude of certain communities, re-emphasised by the recent repeat in outrageous demonstrations.

  2. Scotland has a massive percentage of people dying in care homes. As a Glaswegian I think this should be included in the daily toll, rather than separating the two sets of statistics as this makes the figures misleading!!!

    1. The reason for that being the demographics of the uk population a very high Asian black Caribbean populations who suffer very high rates of diabetes owing to a very poor cultural diet huge amount of rice cooking with gee ect also multi occupancy of homes also massive problem

    2. It IS in the total count, Scottish Briefings then separate it out to ensure we know the facts.
      Scotland now has 9% of care homes with a COVID case in it. Try and find that daily number from England 🙁
      Why they stopped daily briefings adn questions. By the “massive percentage” are you taking that to be the 58% the media jumped on. Which was WRONG, it was that at the peak 58% of Scottish care homes had had at least one CASE of COVID. However, we cant be complacent, it IS high and we have to stop the dumping of elderly from NHS into private run care homes without oversight with powers. OR take it back INTO the NHS adn do it properly and NOT for profit.

  3. 13500 care home deaths in France….and 7000 in England add on Scotland , Wales and NI and still less than France.. I don’t think any of the figures can be trusted for many reasons….not deliberate mis-reporting but confusion at the beginning of the outbreak , and even now, about whether someone died of Covid or not.
    Also there are differences between what is reported….do France report their care home deaths in their total figures and Italy didn’t take part ( I am guessing) because they can’t provide the figures.

    1. Hi David,
      Thank you for your enquiry. Deaths in England are reported in two separate formats currently: CQC data is based on notifications made by care home operators where they have suspected COVID-19 whereas the ONS data is based on death certificates where a doctor has put COVID-19 on the death certificate. Figures for Scotland are published by the National Records of Scotland. You can get more info about how their statistics are calculated by contacting them at: statisticscustomerservices@nrscotland.gov.uk

  4. I’m not sure if it’s accurate or not. But i watched a program a few days ago where family members of care home deaths in England were angry at the way their deaths had been recorded. Whether it was just a lack of test kits at the time, or just that they didn’t want to be wasting them due to shortages. But They all said they definitely had all the covid-19 symptoms. But because they weren’t tested after they died. The death had just been put down to whatever they had been suffering from (mostly dementia). If this is the case, i wonder home many other deaths may have been treated in the same way, resulting in the low count. When other covid-19 deaths outwith care homes in the UK is so high. The excess deaths in the UK over the last 3 months certainly doesn’t add up with the numbers we’re being given. And they have to be somewhere. Hospitals have to test every case for their own records., This program was trying to show care homes don’t. So i would presume unless England has a seriously high amount of deaths happening at home, they would more than likely be in care homes.

  5. “While the European comparison favoured England, it should be borne in mind that the ONS is generally accepted to be underreporting the true number of care home fatalities with the latest estimates suggesting that the ‘real’ death number of deaths is more than double their figure.”

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