According to a grim analysis, more than 22,000 residents of care homes across England and Wales may have died as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Official data from yesterday showed that in early May, nearly 9,000 COVID-19 related deaths were registered in care homes in the two countries.
But researchers at the London School of Economics fear that the number is vastly underestimated, and that the actual number may be more than twice as high.
They said that nursing home residents who were hospitalized before their deaths were not counted correctly, and others who had not contracted the virus may have died as a result of less available medical care or help with food and drink.
Their calculations took into account those hospital residents, who are said to make up 15 percent of Britain’s official death toll.
And the dismal projection also included ‘more deaths’ – the number of people who die compared to the average – in the health care industry as a whole.
It’s because the government is still under fire for not providing adequate support to nursing homes during the crisis, as the industry has accused it of testing rations and protective equipment to focus its efforts on helping NHS hospitals.
Union leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Boris Johnson today in Prime Minister’s requests to declare 10,000 “unexplained” deaths in care homes in April that were not factored into government figures.
Mr. Johnson admitted there was “much more to do” to address the “tragedy” in the nursing home, but did not link the thousands of excess deaths to the coronavirus response.
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed yesterday that 8,315 people died in care homes in England and Wales with coronavirus listed on their death certificates. Researchers at the London School of Economics suggest that this is only about 41 percent of the total, which could be more than 22,000
The study published yesterday has not yet undergone a peer review – in which fellow scientists are examining the work.
The number of officially registered deaths in care homes is in fact only 41.6% of the total.
Dr. Jose-Luis Fernández and PhD researcher Adelina Comas-Herrera said, “Data on nursing home deaths directly attributed to COVID-19 underestimate the pandemic’s impact on nursing home residents.
“They don’t take into account indirect mortality effects of the pandemic or problems identifying the disease as a cause of death.
“Not all residents of care homes die in care homes (according to CQC data, 15 percent of all deaths of care home residents appear to occur in hospitals).
“Deaths from nursing home residents in hospitals are currently not accounted for in publicly available estimates of the number of nursing home deaths associated with the pandemic.”
The report found that people who die and actually state COVID-19 on their death certificates are only a relatively small proportion of all nursing home residents who died during the pandemic
The report states that people in care homes may have died because they were forced to isolate themselves in their rooms and missed out on food and drink assistance.
They may also not have had the same access to medical care as before the pandemic, either because treatment was delayed or because they did not want to go to the hospital for fear of contracting the virus.
About 400,000 people live in nursing homes in the UK and the majority of them have dementia, making them extremely vulnerable.
The report by Dr. Fernández and Ms. Comas-Herrera added, “Calculation of total mortality in nursing homes since December 28 and adjusting for this by assuming that 15 percent of hospital nursing home residents die at 1. May exceed 22,000 deaths of care home residents during the COVID-19 pandemic in England and Wales. ‘
The LSE report comes after weekly statistics yesterday it turned out that nearly 10,000 residents of a care home have now died coronavirus in Britain – a quarter of all British victims.
At the beginning of this month, 8,312 people had died in nursing homes in England and Wales, along with 1,195 in Scotland and 232 in Northern Ireland – a total of 9,739.
Bosses and industry personnel have accused officials of overlooking them in a struggle to “protect the NHS.”
Routine testing was unavailable to staff or residents for most of March and April, and staff say essential personal protective equipment (PPE) is limited.
Last week, top scientists said the persistent, uncontrolled outbreaks in homes contributed to Britain’s slow rise after the shutdown.
The virus’s reproduction rate is believed to be faster in homes and in hospitals, meaning it spreads more quickly and still poses a threat, even though it is now at a low level in the community.
In today’s Prime Minister’s questions, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer urged Boris Johnson to explain why there had been 10,000 ‘unexplained’ deaths in nursing homes in April.
Mr. Starmer said: “The ONS registers the average number of deaths in care homes every month. In the past five years, the average for April was just over 8,000.
This year, the number of deaths in nursing homes for April was a staggering 26,000 – that’s three times the average – 18,000 additional deaths in April.
“Using government figures, only 8,000 are registered as COVID deaths, leaving 10,000 more and unexplained deaths in nursing homes by April.”
The prime minister did not link the 10,000 deaths to the response to the coronavirus, but admitted there was “much more to do” to address the “tragedy” that hit the industry.
Mr. Johnson said, “Coronavirus is a terrible disease that affects some groups much more than others, I think the whole country understands.
“Especially the elderly, and he is right, as I said, to draw attention to the tragedy that has taken place in care homes.
“The Office of National Statistics is responsible for producing the data they have, the government had also produced data showing not only that, as I said, there has been a terrible epidemic in nursing homes, but since the nursing home action plan has begun, we have seen a noticeable and substantial decrease not only in the number of outbreaks but also in the number of deaths. ‘
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a tweet today: “We are injecting another £ 600 million for care homes with our infection control fund to protect residents and staff in our corona virus struggle.”
US data shows that while homes are still reported to be affected by the virus, the number of people dying there began to decline in late April.
Between April 18 and 24, nursing homes in England and Wales registered 2,794 deaths. But between April 25 and May 1, this dropped to 2,423.
While a one week drop is not enough to ensure a trend, it coincided with a marked decrease in all-cause deaths (21,997 to 17,953), of COVID-19 deaths in each location (6,746 to 4,744) and deaths from coronavirus hospitals (4,841 to 3,214).
The magnitude of the tragedy in nursing homes has become more apparent as the outbreak progresses and seems to have peaked later than the hospital crisis.
In the week ending May 1, care home deaths accounted for 40 percent of the total, while hospital deaths were 53 percent.
However, two weeks earlier (April 11-17) this split was 23 percent and 70 percent.
And in the week ending April 3, only five percent of deaths occurred in nursing homes, compared to 89 percent in hospitals.
Although the number of deaths in nursing homes has so far remained lower than the number of hospital deaths, residents make up a greater proportion of the fatalities reported weekly, from just five percent of the total in early April to 40 percent by the end of the month
The Alzheimer’s Society said a “tragically high” number of people are dying in care homes.
Charity research director Fiona Carragher said yesterday: “Unfortunately, the destruction continues in health care facilities with more than three times the usual number of deaths reported than average, clearly demonstrating the cost of not putting social care on an equal footing. with the NHS. .
“We need to know why the death toll in nursing homes remains so high, in addition to deaths reported by coronavirus. 70 percent of care home residents have dementia and we are deeply concerned that this indicates an increase in deaths from dementia caused by isolation and decrease in caregivers.
“Each of these deaths is a heartbreaking loss to their friends, families and caregivers, so the government must keep their promise to ensure that healthcare institutions test all residents and staff and the protective equipment they need.
“We are now approaching our third month of closure, still with a tragically high death rate in nursing homes.”
The charity added that dementia patients are “really struggling” with visit restrictions and urged the government to find a way to facilitate visiting hours to prevent their social welfare from being “irreversibly damaged”.