More than 7,500 care home residents feared to have died

More than 7,500 care home residents are now feared to have died from coronavirus – as 20 die at ONE Scottish home including four people in one day

  • Care England said number of residents dying surpassed government estimates
  • Poll suggests more than 40 per cent of nursing homes have coronavirus cases
  • But official figures showed only 237 care home coronavirus deaths recorded  
  • 20 residents at a single care home in Scotland were reported to have died
  • It comes as frontline staff being told to reuse PPE to treat coronavirus patients
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

More than 7,500 care home residents are now feared to have died from coronavirus, according to new data.

Care England, the country’s largest representative body for care homes, said the number of residents dying from the illness far surpassed government estimates.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this week showed only 237 care home coronavirus deaths had been recorded in England and Wales up to April 3.

The Daily Mail revealed on Wednesday that care home providers suspected at least 4,000 care home residents had died from Covid-19.

But Professor Martin Green, the chief executive of Care England, said yesterday the figure had likely now reached 7,500.  

More than 7,000 care home residents are now feared to have died from coronavirus, according to new data. Pictured: Medics outside Berelands Care Home, Prestwick, where 20 of its residents died due to suspected coronavirus

Speaking to the Telegraph, Professor Green said: ‘Without testing it is very difficult to give an absolute figure.

‘However, if we look at some of the death rates since April 1 and compare them with previous years’ rates, we estimate a figure of about 7, 500 people may have died as a result of Covid-19.’  

The latest figures come after a total of 20 residents at a single care home in Scotland were reported to have died due to suspected coronavirus.

The Berelands Care Home, in Prestwick, Ayrshire, saw four of those deaths take place in the past 24 hours. 

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) told a select committee yesterday he was ‘absolutely sure’ the number and proportion of deaths was larger than reported

Official figures revealed yesterday a quarter of all coronavirus deaths in Scotland have been in care homes. 

Data from the National Records of Scotland showed 962 people diagnosed with, or suspected of having, COVID-19 had died.

Of those, 237 (24.6 per cent) were in care homes, 586 in hospitals, 128 in homes and one in an undisclosed location.

The figure was five times higher than the 5 per cent number given by the Office for National Statistics, which collates data in England and Wales. 

The ONS statistics also showed that another 5 per cent of deaths had been recorded outside of hospitals, such as in hospices.  

The Department of Health figures are affected by a backlog in hospital recordings, meaning that hundreds of deaths are not registered to be counted. 

A spokesman for Berelands Care Home said: ‘We are deeply saddened to confirm that four more residents have died from what we believe to be Covid-19.

‘Three of our residents passed away yesterday, and one this morning.

‘This is profoundly upsetting, and our deepest sympathies are with their families and friends.

‘We are entirely focused on caring for, and protecting, all our residents and are extremely grateful to our dedicated staff who are doing their absolute best at this extraordinarily difficult time.

‘We are closely monitoring the health of residents and staff, and supporting the families of those who have died, while continuing to follow all official guidance.’       

Last night, health watchdog the Care Quality Commission also said there were 3,084 care homes with coronavirus outbreaks in England, up to and including April 15.

In a poll of 2,800 care home owners, managers and staff, 28 per cent said they were looking after residents who had tested positive for the disease.

More than 40 per cent said they had seen suspected outbreaks of Covid-19.

And despite a government pledge and significant pressure from the Daily Mail, 80 per cent of carers in the and ITV news poll said staff had not been tested at all.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a select committee yesterday he was ‘absolutely sure’ the number and proportion of deaths was larger than reported. 

A spokesman for Berelands Care Home said: ‘We are deeply saddened to confirm that four more residents have died from what we believe to be Covid-19’

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) began collecting data on deaths linked to Covid-19 which occurred in both hospitals and care homes on Thursday, Matt Hancock said. 

He promised data on residents who die with the illness will be available ‘very shortly’. 

He told the Health and Social Care Committee on Friday: ‘I’m concerned about this as well; I asked CQC to make sure that we record the data in care homes specifically, of those who are residents of care homes, whether they die in hospital or in the care home, and they started collecting that data yesterday and it will be published very shortly.’

It comes as more than 40 per cent of nursing homes may have cases of coronavirus , a nationwide poll of thousands of carers suggests. (A visitors’ notice stating cases of COVID-19 within Coplands Nursing Home in Wembley, northwest London)

Hundreds of unpaid carers are finding emotional support through the lockdown period by joining a new virtual community

More than eight million unpaid carers in the UK have been helping alleviate pressure on hospitals by looking after sick, elderly and disabled relatives, according to Mobilise, an emerging online community of carers.

Launched last month in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mobilise is an online forum where carers can meet for a chat over a ‘virtual cuppa’ and access vital information about the outbreak from their homes.

There are currently more than 500 carers registered on the website.

Darren Smith, 50, has been caring for his sister Sharon Smith, 43, who has severe learning difficulties, since their mother died in September, and does everything from washing her, making her meals and keeping her entertained.

Mr Smith, from south Wales, said social isolation as a sole full-time carer can be emotionally draining, but he has been keeping spirits up by crocheting, sewing and watching TV series Little House On The Prairie with his sister.

He described their life in lockdown as ‘very isolating, and quite lonely’, but said Mobilise has given him ‘the chance to have a conversation with people in similar situations’.

Mr Smith said: ‘One of my biggest worries is that something happens to me, because I’m a lone carer.

‘I’m really quite terrified about how we would cope if I caught the virus. And if I went to hospital, about what would happen, because our relatives live too far away.’

He added: ‘For me it’s very helpful to talk to other people in the Zoom Cuppa (on Mobilise).

‘Some people have elderly relatives they care for, and there are regular people who attend the Cuppa.

‘It’s fun and it’s something I look forward to. And if you’re not there, somebody will email to check you’re OK.’

Mr Smith said there should be more recognition of unpaid carers, adding: ‘Carers are doing a great deal that would normally fall to the local authority or the state, and they are not recognised for it.’

Suzanne Bourne, head of carer support at Mobilise, who is also an unpaid carer for her husband Matt, agreed carers ‘deserve recognition and support’.

Ms Bourne, who uses Mobilise herself, said: ‘Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been amazing to be able to connect with other carers around the country, all of whom are facing unique challenges due to the current restrictions.

‘Seeing the incredible ways these people are overcoming these obstacles is truly inspiring.’

Chief executive and co-founder of Mobilise James Townsend said he wants carers to know there is an online community available for them.

He said: ‘At a time when we’re all worried about health, caring for someone you love is extremely stressful.

‘We aim to provide a space where it’s OK to cry, but where you can also find something to laugh about with other people who understand.’

Mr Hancock did not specify precisely when, or how often, this data will be published.

A Government spokesman said ‘every death from this virus is a tragedy’, and said people were ‘working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need’.

The Department of Health statement added: ‘As a Government, we have a duty to report verified information.

‘It is important that we have the best possible reliable data to know how many deaths there are, wherever they occur.

‘In an important step forward, ONS are now providing a breakdown of deaths by place of occurrence.

‘We are currently working with CQC and other organisations to understand how to best to provide up to date information about deaths in care homes and elsewhere.’ 

The data specifically on the deaths of care home residents is published at a lag of several weeks because it relies on death certificates which must be registered and processed, and until now has been the only official source for deaths outside hospitals.  

The pledge comes after experts called for care home deaths to be included in the daily tally amid fears they are going ‘under the radar’.

They currently are not listed every day and there have been lags in reported figures for several weeks because the process relies on death certificates, which must be registered and processed.

Earlier this week, the head of Public Health England, Professor Yvonne Doyle, said agencies were working towards producing ‘much more rapid data, preferably on a daily basis’.   

The latest poll provides the biggest snapshot yet of the impact of COVID-19 on the sector and suggests the care home crisis is deeper than the Government is willing to admit. 

Almost all (94 per cent) of those asked felt that the government should be doing more to test clients and staff in care homes.

Access to personal protective equipment, or PPE, was also of concern to respondents. 

Half said they had not received sufficient quantities of PPE, whilst 59 per cent felt the PPE they received was not safe or did not offer the necessary levels of protection. 

Eighty-three per cent of carers said they were worried about transmitting COVID-19 to their family after working in the homes.   

Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s view of the care home situation has been in stark contrast to what care providers have said.  

Mr Hancock said on Thursday that 15 per cent of care homes had two or more cases of the virus – one in seven.

He appeared to deny claims made by the care home executives that up to two thirds of all care homes have outbreaks when asked about the validity of claims on Good Morning Britain.

He described the 15 per cent figure as ‘robust’ and said Number 10 has ‘high confidence’ in it. 

Meanwhile, in Scotland, a quarter of all coronavirus deaths in Scotland have been in care homes, according to official data.

The National Records of Scotland showed 962 people diagnosed with, or suspected of having, COVID-19 had died.

Of those, 237 (24.6 per cent) were in care homes, 586 in hospitals, 128 in homes and one in an undisclosed location.

The figure was five times higher than the 5 per cent number given by the Office for National Statistics, which collates data in England and Wales.

17 residents die at care home in Luton after five tested positive for coronavirus

Two more residents have died at a Luton care home taking the total number of deaths there during the coronavirus pandemic to 17.

Last week it was announced that 15 residents at the Castletroy Residential home in Luton had died.

Five of those who died had tested positive for Covid-19.

A spokeswoman for Luton Borough Council said the two further residents who had died had not been tested for Covid-19.

The home has 69 beds for elderly people with nursing or personal care needs.

The two new deaths were announced after the government said earlier that all UK care home residents and staff with Covid-19 symptoms are to be tested.

In a statement, Luton Borough Council said: ‘We are sad to report that 17 residents of the home have passed away since 28 March. Of these five had tested positive for Covid-19. 

‘Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the residents, as well as the staff of the home who are working in extremely difficult circumstances.’

The statement added: ‘We share the frustration of many over the delay in equipment being made available from the government to those in front line roles. 

‘Following a letter from Leader of the Council, Hazel Simmons, to Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock, Bedfordshire received a supply of PPE last week.

‘The distribution of this, along with other supplies, is being coordinated by the council to go to those settings working directly with residents, in line with national PPE guidance.

‘We have been working closely with all Luton care homes to ensure they have the right PPE in place at a time when supplies are limited. In some cases, this has meant sourcing our own supplies where government delays meant staff would otherwise have been left without.

‘The team at Castletroy have been provided with a supply of adequate PPE including gloves, aprons and face masks throughout.

‘We are still having to work extremely hard to ensure that services and providers have access to appropriate and timely PPE when needed. We understand there will be more equipment arriving shortly which will be prioritised according to need across Bedfordshire.

‘We continue to work closely with the team at Castletroy to see what additional support to staff and families might be helpful at this particularly difficult time.’

NHS frontline staff are told to ‘wear aprons’ to treat coronavirus patients and reuse PPE as hospitals come within hours of running out of gowns

NHS frontline staff have been told to ‘wear aprons’ to treat coronavirus patients and reuse PPE as supplies at some hospitals are set to run out within hours. 

New guidance was issued last night amid reports at least 60 NHS trusts were expecting to exhaust their stocks of gowns. This includes all hospitals in London, which reportedly need tens of thousands of gowns delivered urgently.

Unison, which represents many medical staff, warned tonight that doctors and nurses may stop turning up for work if there are no gowns available.

The guidance from Public Health England sets out what front-line staff should do when there are no gowns left.

Options include borrowing from other hospitals with supplies, wearing coveralls or using flimsy plastic aprons instead of full-length gowns that protect against infections.

Nurses and doctors have been advised to weare ‘non-fluid repellant coveralls’ with aprons and to wash their forearms after work. Nurse pictured at MOT testing centre in Northern Ireland

It is a significant U-turn from previous PHE guidance, which required full-length waterproof surgical gowns for all high-risk hospital procedures. The move will prompt fears more doctors and nurses will become infected due to a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

At least 50 NHS staff members have died from the virus. They include consultant urologist Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, 53, who had warned a lack of PPE put medics at risk.

An NHS worker in an ambulance outside St Thomas’ hospital in Westminster, London

The guidance was issued in response to ‘acute shortages of PPE’. It said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had approved reusing items and ‘sessional’ use – where one health care worker uses the same PPE for a whole shift. It said that even though items were designed for single use, ‘HSE recognises that some compromise is needed to optimise the supply of PPE in times of extreme shortages’.

Responding the advice Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, said: ‘If gowns run out, staff in high risk areas may well decide that it’s no longer safe for them to work.

‘Health managers must be truly honest with staff and their union representatives over the weekend.’

She said this is an ‘absolute worst case scenario measure’ that ‘staff hope their organisations won’t have to implement’. 

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called on the government to fix the ‘ongoing failure’ in the PPE supply. 

‘Week after week, we hear of problems in PPE getting to the front line despite what ministers tell us at Downing Street press conferences,’ he said. ‘This ongoing failure needs fixing and ministers must explain how they will fix it urgently.’

Medical staff are pictured above being trained how to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) at the Nightingale hospital in Manchester’s Central Convention Complex

Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts, said some could run out of gowns this weekend despite ‘carefully managing’ remaining stock and collaborating with neighbouring health organisations where possible.

‘We all hope that this temporary disruption to supply will be short-lived and that the gowns that were ordered a long time ago, and should have already arrived, start arriving consistently and reliably rather than in the current fits and starts,’ she said.

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘New clinical advice has been issued today to make sure that if there are shortages in one area, frontline staff know what PPE to wear instead to minimise risk.’

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted he couldn’t guarantee hospitals wouldn’t run out this weekend. At a briefing yesterday, Mr Hancock said 55,000 more gowns were arriving but admitted the UK was ‘tight’ on supplies.

He told the Commons health select committee: ‘The challenge of getting protective equipment out to everybody who needs it is an incredibly difficult one. As of this weekend we will have shipped one billion items of personal protective equipment across the UK. I take responsibility for getting PPE out to everyone.’

Asked if he would get gowns to those who needed them this weekend he said: ‘That is what we are aiming to do.’

Almost all the gowns used by the NHS are made in China and the Far East. The UK needs around 150,000 a day, meaning the 55,000 due to arrive yesterday equates to only around eight hours worth. They need to be water-resistant material and have long sleeves.

Yesterday it emerged one hospital trust boss was so desperate he called the BBC asking for phone numbers for Burberry and Barbour. He said his trust, in the South East, had ‘less than 24 hours’ supply and [with the] weekend coming up’ was hugely concerned.

Fashion companies have turned over production lines to producing equipment for the NHS. Fashion-Enter in Haringey, London, has started stitching together medical clothes for the NHS. 

A Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey found half of 14,000 nursing staff on duty at Easter – including those in the most high-risk areas – felt under pressure to work without PPE.

Almost a third of nursing staff treating Covid-19 patients not on ventilators reported a lack of face and eye protection while only half said they believed they had enough alcohol hand rub.

Fashion-Enter in Haringey, London, has started sewing together medical clothes for NHS workers to help combat shortages during the coronavirus outbreak

One in ten nurses said they were relying on face or eye protection that they had either bought themselves or which was homemade. Donna Kinnair, RCN chief executive, said: ‘All decision makers involved here need to get an urgent grip on the situation. Nursing staff must be given protection.’

The problems in Britain’s PPE supply come as nurses in Tor Vergata, Rome, were seen wearing full protective kits. The country is one of the worst hit by the pandemic in Europe.

Leading physician warned that Britain will face ‘further waves’ of Covid-19 and will probably have the highest death rate in Europe because the Government was ‘too slow’ to act.

Nurses in Tor Vergata, Italy, were pictured today wearing long-gowns and full protective equipment. Italy has faced one of Europe’s worst outbreaks of coronavirus

Professor Anthony Costello, of University College London’s Institute for Global Health, said the ‘harsh reality’ is that ‘we were too slow with a number of things’ and deaths could reach to 40,000.

The Department of Health said a total of 14,576 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Thursday, up by 847 from the day before.

The Government also faced further criticism over a gulf between those being tested and the testing capacity, with just 18,665 tests being conducted in the 24 hours up to 9am on Thursday, despite 38,000 tests being available.

Mr Hancock announced on Friday that testing would be expanded to those in the police, fire service and prisons, as well as critical local authority workers, the judiciary and Department for Work and Pensions staff where required.

In other developments, the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine was given a boost by the launch of a Government taskforce.

Nurses pictured wearing full protective gear at a hospital in Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy, today

Led by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, and deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan van Tam, it will support efforts to rapidly develop a vaccine as soon as possible.

As well as providing industry and research institutions with the resources and support, the group will review regulations to allow quick and safe vaccine trials.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma told the daily Downing Street press conference: ‘The taskforce will support progress across all stages of vaccine development and at pace.

‘It will back Britain’s most promising research, positioning the UK as a leader in clinical vaccine testing and manufacturing.

‘The taskforce will co-ordinate with regulators to facilitate trials which are both rapid and well supervised and it will work with industry in the UK and internationally so we’re in a position to manufacture vaccines at scale.’

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