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More than 6,500 coronavirus-related deaths outside of hospital so far – figures

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More than 6,500 deaths involving coronavirus have occurred in England and Wales outside of hospital, official figures show.

Care homes notified the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of 4,343 deaths of residents in homes between April 10 and 24 in England, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

More than half of the notifications – 2,178 – were made in the last five days of that period.

It is the first time the CQC death notifications for suspected or confirmed Covid-19 in care homes have been published.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Care providers said it is clear the “epicentre of this crisis is in care homes” and that the sector is “sadly the most affected area of society in terms of deaths from Covid-19”.

Prior to April 10, there were 1,000 deaths registered in care homes, Nick Stripe, head of health analysis, told the BBC.

Separately, the ONS said there were 1,220 deaths which occurred outside hospital, excluding care home deaths, in England and Wales up to April 17.

Of these:

– 883 took place in private homes

– 190 in hospices

– 61 in other communal establishments

– 86 elsewhere

The ONS and CQC figures added together make a total of 6,563 deaths outside hospital.

And overall, some 24,243 deaths involving coronavirus have now been registered across the UK, analysis by the PA news agency shows.

Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), told the BBC: “There could be deaths that are happening in care homes that would ordinarily have been transferred to hospitals. So those care pathways might be being disrupted to some degree.

“It could also be that perhaps care home residents are getting what ostensibly appears like milder symptoms of Covid… but perhaps Covid which is acting in strange ways in some cases could be affecting their underlying health conditions.

“So the evidence of Covid is less obvious but it might be affecting those underlying conditions and they might be dying of those.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The ONS’s weekly release also showed the total number of deaths involving Covid-19 in England up to April 17 (and which were registered up to April 25), was 39% higher than the equivalent NHS total.

The ONS figures show there were 21,284 deaths involving Covid-19 over that period, compared with 15,293 deaths in hospitals in England for the same period, reported by NHS England.

This is because the ONS figures include all mentions of Covid-19 on a death certificate, including suspected Covid-19, as well as deaths in the community.

The NHS figures only include deaths in hospitals where a patient has been tested for Covid-19.

Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group (ICG), said those in care and nursing homes who have died “deserve better”.

He said: “Due to the lag in collating these figures, we do fear that the true number of people who have died in care and nursing homes since the start of coronavirus may be higher than these figures suggest. It may well be that they are increasing whilst hospital deaths are falling.

“We hope not, but it might be that the numbers will actually be higher.

“Social care providers are now on the true front line in the fight against Covid-19 and we need more support.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Downing Street insisted it had acted to prevent the spread of coronavirus within care homes in the early stages of the pandemic.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We set out a strategy for care homes in the early stages of the pandemic and offered detailed advice on how to stop the spread of coronavirus within care homes and also how to stop it from getting inside care homes in the first place.

“We’ve also been providing PPE from the very early stages of the pandemic. The Health Secretary recently published an updated care home strategy. I think we want to do all we can to support those living and working in care homes at what we accept is an enormously difficult time.”

Overall in England and Wales, almost four in 10 deaths up to April 17 (39.2%) were coronavirus-related.

There were 22,351 provisional deaths registered in England and Wales over the seven days – 11,854 more than the five-year average.

Of these, 8,758 mentioned “novel coronavirus”.

Up to April 17, a total of 3,096 care home deaths were registered in England and Wales, up from 1,043 the previous week.

Just over three-quarters (77.4%) of the Covid-19-related deaths up to April 17 took place in hospital with the remainder occurring in care homes, private homes and hospices.

Sam Monaghan, chief executive of Methodist Homes, said: “The ONS figures are finally beginning to show what we have known for some weeks now, that care homes are sadly the most affected area of society in terms of deaths from Covid-19.

“Already we have had 294 of our residents die from suspected coronavirus. I say suspected because, apart from 84 of these, none of them had been tested to see if they had the virus.

“Testing is only now starting to become more prevalent in care homes so we should start to know for certain the extent to which our care homes are being affected.”

Simon Jones, director of policy and public affairs at the palliative care charity, Marie Curie, said: “With two thirds of all care home deaths from Covid-19 being accounted for in the week ending April 17, it is clear now that the epicentre of this crisis is in care homes – where the most vulnerable live and where staff, who are no doubt caring, committed and dedicated, are least equipped to manage death on this scale.

“These figures show how hard Covid-19 continues to hit the care home sector but also how it is now threatening its very existence.”

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