The shielding of nursing homes has “completely failed,” said a general practitioner and a university doctor today amid fears that the number of elderly people who died will be much higher than official statistics show.
Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said the failure to protect residents by testing nursing home staff for coronavirus was a “serious mistake” leading to tragically unnecessary deaths.
His plea came amid growing concern that authorities are relying on evidence of a significant increase in the number of deaths among elderly people in the community, whose deaths are not included in the official death toll, which only covers confirmed hospitalized cases.
Despite requests from the Standard, neither Public Health England nor the Care Quality Commission have so far provided figures on the number of people who died in nursing homes in London due to a coronavirus. They said they were working on data but for future publication.
Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden has admitted that official figures for 217 nursing home deaths are out of date. Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he admitted that the real figure “was much higher than that because there is a lag.”
Professor Heneghan told BBC Radio 4 Today: “We have made two serious mistakes. The first error was not to continue to contact the individuals on the trail and to test.
“People who work in retirement homes play a key role in this because the shielding has failed.
“Seventy percent of all deaths occur in those over 75 years of age. Forty percent of nursing homes are infected. So everything we have done has completely failed in terms of armor. “
Nursing home managers complain that they were treated as second class during the crisis, with less access to protective equipment and tests.
Last week, the government announced that it was expanding the Covid-19 test to all nursing home staff who have symptoms.
However, the Fairfield nursing home in Oxford said its staff could only pass the test if they traveled to Twickenham, in south-west London, for a 160-mile round trip.