A global survey has found that care home residents were more likely to die of COVID-19 in the UK than any other major country apart from Spain.
In a comparison of selected major countries, analysis by the LSE found that 5.3% of UK care home deaths were attributable to COVID-19.
The UK ranked second only to Spain (6.1%) in the comparison whereas the best performing countries reported rates of COVID-19 deaths in care homes of well under 1% – New Zealand (0.04%), Austria (0.3%), Germany (0.4%).
The UK also ranked second only to the US in terms of the number of deaths of care home residents linked to COVID-19, with 21,889 and 50,185, respectively.
England and Wales ranked lower in terms of the number of COVID-19 related deaths per total fatalities (30%), reflecting the comparatively high number of deaths in the UK; findings that were echoed in earlier research by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which revealed that the UK had the lowest rate of COVID-19 deaths per total fatalities in a study of European nations.
The report’s lead author, Adelina Comas-Herrera, told The Guardian that countries such as Germany were “further ahead in understanding which staff and residents had contact with whom” due to different policies on testing and tracing.
Adeline added: “We think the main factor was that Covid was much less under control in the overall population [in the UK]. As a result, care homes were much more in danger.”
Professor Martin Green, OBE, CEO of Care England, told CHP: “The LSE report shows the tragic consequences of ignoring care homes at the start of this pandemic. We must learn lessons from this report, and care homes must be better supported by the NHS, and better understood and funded by the government.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said the government had taken “swift action” to protect care home residents and staff, adding: “This includes offering whole care home testing and providing additional funding for local services, which has resulted in almost 60% of our care homes [not having] an outbreak at all.”