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Research estimates put ‘real’ care home COVID-19 death toll at over 22,000

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More than 22,000 care home residents in England and Wales have died during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

In a new paper, the LSE said data on deaths had underestimated the impact of the pandemic on care home residents as it did not take into account the indirect mortality effects of the pandemic and/or because of problems with the identification of the disease as the cause of death.

The paper said current data only accounted for an estimated 41.6% of all excess deaths in care homes.

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The research notes that not all care home residents die in care homes, with the CQC recording that 15% occur in hospital, which are not currently accounted for in estimates.

In its key findings, the report states: “Calculating total excess mortality in care homes since 28th December (19,038, 46% of all excess mortality in England and Wales), and adjusting this by the assumption that 15% of care home residents die in hospital, suggests that by the 1st May there had been in excess of 22,000 deaths of care home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic (54% of all excess mortality) in England and Wales.”

The LSE estimate is more than double the 8,314 deaths reported by the ONS in its latest report covering the period to May 8.

An ONS spokesperson told CHP: “Our data shows just under 20k ‘excess’ deaths registered up to 1 May above average in care home settings since the pandemic started. Of those, 8,312 have had COVID-19 mentioned on the death certificate. We are undertaking further analysis on all deaths of care home residents which will be published on Friday.”

A CQC spokesperson added: “Today, ONS has published data that indicates there have been 23,136 more deaths of care home residents in England & Wales between 28 December 2019 and 1 May 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.  CQC believes this to be the best view of additional deaths of care home residents available as it is based on deaths registrations.”

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The author Lee Peart

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