His estimate comes in the midst of a growing argument over the extent of the coronavirus crisis in nursing homes and the government’s response, as data from Public Health England confirmed that older people were the hardest hit by the virus, with 69% of deceased people over the age of 70.
Earlier this week, the government was charged with misleading the public about the magnitude of the pandemic because it did not include nursing home deaths in its daily briefings. Health workers have warned that deaths in nursing homes have been significantly underestimated by official figures.
Charities said new data “would scare anyone with a loved one living in a care home” as they renewed calls for more personal protective equipment (PPE) to help keep residents and caregivers safe.
Earlier this week, a letter leaked from nursing home bosses accused Number 10 of a “chaotic” response to the industry crisis, with “paltry” and “random” PPE deliveries.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said during the daily Downing Street briefing on Thursday that only 15% of nursing homes were affected by Covid-19. He told the health and social care committee on Friday that data on the deaths of residents of nursing homes with coronavirus will be released “very soon”.
His engagement came as medical professionals claimed they had not seen £ 1.6 billion that Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, announced that he had been set aside for social care. The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that without “a promise of cast iron funding”, boards will be headed for “financial failure”.
Responding to Care England data, Caroline Abrahams, director of charity at Age UK, said: “This is a shocking and heartbreaking estimate that will chill anyone with a loved one living in a care home.
“It highlights how crucial it is that the government’s commitments to PPE and testing in nursing homes are implemented quickly and successfully.
“As we have feared for some time, what is happening in nursing homes – not only here, but also in many other countries – is an ongoing tragedy. It is too late to avoid it completely, but there is still time to make a positive difference. and save many lives, both for staff and the elderly.
“The central and local government and the nursing home sector must work together to make this happen. And later, maybe much later, we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. “