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Covid-related deaths up by 46% in England’s care homes, figures show

NHS aims to vaccinate all-remaining residents and staff by Sunday in ‘race against deaths’

Sam Hancock
Tuesday 19 January 2021 19:35 GMT
‘Don’t blow it now,’ Hancock warns as four million now have vaccine

The number of Covid-related deaths in care homes in England has increased significantly, with the latest official figures showing a 46-per-cent jump in the last week.  

Staff reported 1,260 deaths involving coronavirus to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in the week ending last Friday – up from 864 and 661 in the previous two weeks, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  

The near-doubling of fatalities led Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow social care minister, to describe the vaccination process for residents and staff as a “race against time”.  

“The government must leave no stone unturned to deliver on its promise to complete care home vaccinations by this Sunday in every part of the country,” she said.  

“Ministers must also guarantee no one will be discharged from hospitals to care homes without an up-to-date Covid-19 test and instead of pressurising homes to take Covid-19 positive patients, they should be setting up a network of intermediate ‘step down’ facilities instead.”

NHS England has said it expected to have vaccinated care home residents and staff by Sunday 24 January at the latest, leaving GPs the mammoth task of delivering vaccines to the half of residents yet to receive them.  

Meanwhile, separate ONS, National Records of Scotland and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency figures for the week to 8 January showed that 25,008 people had died from Covid in care homes across the UK since the start of the pandemic – though this figure rises to 32,331 when deaths of care home residents admitted to hospital are considered.  

All in all, this means the number of coronavirus-related deaths in UK care homes accounts for more than one-third of all Covid fatalities since the crisis began last March. Figures released on Tuesday showed the nation’s death toll currently stands at 91,470.  

Weekly fatalities in care homes had fallen to well below 100 in early October but the new, more much infectious, variant has wreaked havoc in the sector since it entered care facilities some time at the end of last year or the beginning of 2021.

The government has announced it will provide indemnity for CQC-approved facilities in England looking to take on coronavirus patients who have been rapidly discharged from busy hospitals.

With insurers refusing to cover these care homes becoming “designated settings”, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government would cover them for for clinical negligence and employer’s and public liability until March, where commercial cover would not. 

Mr Zahawi previously described the vaccination rollout programme as a “race against deaths”.

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