Coronavirus outbreaks have been recorded in 92 care homes in the last 24 hours alone, the government revealed today as authorities were accused of ‘airbrushing out’ the deaths of hundreds of elderly victims.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said almost one in seven (13.5 per cent) of the UK’s 11,300 care homes has now confirmed an infestation of the deadly virus among their at-risk communities.
Almost 100 residents are already known to have died from coronavirus, but the true statistic is unknown because daily figures released by Public Health England relate only to NHS hospital fatalities.
Care England, the industry body, says around 1,000 residents could have died from Covid-19 – with even more ‘unrecorded’ deaths ‘swept under the carpet’.
Shadow minister for social care Liz Kendall said: ‘Today’s press conference has exposed the growing crisis in our care homes because of coronavirus.
‘Ministers must publish daily figures of deaths in care homes so we know the true scale of the problem and how fast it is spreading.
‘They must also ensure social care has the resources it needs and that vital PPE and testing get to care workers on the frontline.’
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said that more than one in eight (13.5 per cent) of the UK’s 11,300 care homes has now confirmed an infestation of the deadly virus among their at-risk residents.
Addressing the public at the daily news conference this afternoon, Prof Whitty (left) said that ‘ramping up of testing will allow us to get greater accuracy on this over time’.
Addressing the public at the daily news conference this afternoon, Prof Whitty said ‘ramping up of testing will allow us to get greater accuracy on this over time’.
One of the things we want to do is extend the amount of testing of people in care homes as the ability to test ramps up over the next few weeks, because clearly care home are one of the areas where there are large numbers of vulnerable people,’ he said.
Dozens of residents die from coronavirus across the UKK
Yorkshire – 13: 13 residents have died at a care home in Yorkshire
Luton – 15: Castleroy Residential home is believed to have had 15 deaths from coronavirus
Bristol – undisclosed: Edgemont View Nursing Home has closed to visitors after ‘a number of deaths’ in recent days
Dumbarton, 8: Eight patients died at Castle View, in Dumbarton
Essex, 13: 13 residents are understood to have died at a home in Waltham Abbey
Scotland – 32: So far in Scotland, 13 people have died at a care home in Glasgow, eight residents in a home in Dumbarton, nine residents in Tranent and two in an Edinburgh care home.
Five elderly residents have also died at Almond Court in Drumchapel, Glasgow.
Liverpool, 3: At the Oak Springs Care Home in Wavertree, three residents died at the weekend, with one of them testing positive for the virus
Portsmouth, 4: Four elderly residents at Harry Sotnick House have died after showing Covid-19 symptoms and a fifth died without symptoms.
London, 7: Seven people living at Hawthorn Green Residential and Nursing Home in Stepney died after contracting the virus, the east London home said.
Durham, 13: 13 people have died at Stanley Park Care Home in County Durham from Covid-19 symptoms
‘That is an area of risk and therefore we would very much like to have much more extensive testing in that setting. That will help with this.’
But Liberal Democrat health spokesman Munira Wilson described the news as “worrying”.
She added: “With so many healthcare workers on the front-line working without proper PPE or testing, these outbreaks may appear inevitable.
“The Government needs to act and fast to protect front-line staff as well as the most vulnerable in our society who they care for.”
Earlier, chief executive of charity Marie Curie Matthew Reed warned care homes ‘are not well equipped to support a number of people dying in quick succession.’
He said the figures released everyday of hospital deaths are ‘lagging behind the big number’ as care home deaths are not part of the government’s daily figures.
They are instead part of weekly lists of ‘community’ deaths tallied by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) using death certificates.
Dominic Raab tonight confirmed the UK’s coronavirus lockdown will remain in place for the foreseeable future and warned Britain is yet to hit the peak of the outbreak as official statistics showed a further 717 deaths.
The First Secretary of State, who continues to deputise for Boris Johnson while the PM recovers from his fight with the disease, said there were now ‘positive signs that we are starting to win this battle, but we’ve still got a long way to go’.
The latest death toll figures took the overall UK number of victims to 11,329 but the daily total of fatalities has now dropped for three days in a row for the first time since the epidemic began.
Speaking at the daily coronavirus press conference in Downing Street, Mr Raab described the figures as ‘grisly’ as he said Britain was ‘still not past the peak of this virus’ and the government could therefore not ease social distancing measures.
Furious care home bosses have now accused the government of playing ‘Russian roulette with people’s lives.’
Labour MP Peter Kyle said the failure to do more to stop this spread within care homes amounted to a ‘crime’.
Care home staff say they are working on the ‘forgotten front line’ of the coronavirus battle and will soon be forced to wear bin bags as PPE.
Mr Raab said the Government was trying to give front line staff reassurance over personal protective equipment (PPE).
There has been renewed concern over a shortage of some supplies in parts of the country.
He said: ‘We understand the importance of getting PPE to the front line whether it’s in care homes or the NHS.
‘I think the strongest practical reassurance they will want and that we can give them is that over the Bank Holiday weekend over 16 million items were delivered and we are straining every sinew to roll them out even further and even faster.’
Fifteen out of 20 residents of Oaklands Nursing Home in East Sussex last week developed coronavirus symptoms, with a member of staff in intensive care. However, just three were tested – among them Giuseppe Casciello, 95, who died on March 30. He is pictured here with family
12 people have died at Stanley Park Care Home in Stanley, County Durham
Today it was confirmed 13 people had died at Stanley Park Care Home in County Durham following a concentrated outbreak among residents.
‘I can’t sleep at night’: Care home manager troubled over lack of protective equipment
Care home manager Nicola Rowland has said she couldn’t sleep at night because of worries about securing PPE.
Park Manor residential home in Ipswich has received a one-off delivery of face masks from the Government but is no longer receiving direct supplies of gloves, aprons and masks.
Miss Rowland said she had spent hours scouring the internet for items but complained prices were ‘sky high’.
Suffolk County Council received a PPE delivery from the Government last Wednesday and stock was sent out to the care sector.
But a council spokesman said it was having to prioritise protection for ‘frontline staff’.
The Department of Health says it has delivered 7.8million PPE products to more than 26,000 care providers.
And a relative who lost a loved one at a home in Essex told The Sun the disease was ‘spreading like wildfire’ and was so contagious that relatives are banned from retrieving jewellery from the dead.
Some 13 residents are understood to have passed away at the Essex home.
To date, 13 residents have died at a care home in Yorkshire, 11 in Northamptonshire and another 15 at a home in Luton.
Edgemont View Nursing Home, in Bristol, has closed to visitors after ‘a number of deaths’ in recent days.
Public Health England (PHE) and South Gloucestershire Council confirmed the deaths in a joint statement – although it remains unclear exactly how many people have died.
A Care UK spokeswoman said the latest resident, who died this morning at Stanley Park, had symptoms that could indicate Covid-19, though no test had been done.
Matthew Reed, from Marie Curie, said it should be possible for care homes to allow visitors for people who are dying.
But he added: ‘The lack of PPE and testing means workers at care homes are not well equipped to support a number of people dying in quick succession.
‘The life of a care home worker is just as valuable as people working in intensive care.’
His sentiments were shared by Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, who said the lack of PPE and testing was leading to Covid-19 ‘running wild’ in care homes.
‘The problem is there’s not enough of either,’ she said.
Cyril Lawrence, 99, was a teenager when football last ground to a halt back in 1939. His daughter Elaine told MailOnline her father is fighting for his life in hospital after falling ill when he was admitted to a care home
‘And what there is is going to the NHS, which is the right decision but it is leaving care settings in a difficult position.
Whistleblower claims Covid death total could be DOUBLE the official figure
A whistleblower has claimed the true coronavirus death toll could be double the current figure.
The source, who works in death registration in the south of England, said ‘dozens and dozens’ of errors are being made on death certificates in care homes and the community.
They said ‘old age, dementia or Alzheimer’s’ was being used as the ‘easy option’ by GPs without any reference to the deadly bug.
They cited a conversation with one doctor who revealed they had put the cause of death on one document as ‘Alzheimer’s’, when ‘it was probably Covid’.
The whistleblower told Channel Four News if care home and community deaths were accurately recorded, it would equal the hospital deaths in their area.
They added that the country will never know the true number of deaths from the illness.
‘We were underprepared for this, we are playing catch-up on getting enough PPE and testing, I’m wondering if the needs of care homes were taken seriously early on.’
Ms Abrahams added: ‘The current figures are airbrushing older people out like they don’t matter.’
Nicola Roberts oversees three care homes in Sheffield as director of Palms Row Healthcare, where eight residents have died and 39 people – including staff – have been diagnosed.
She told Sky News staff were ‘on the forgotten front line’ of coronavirus.
The virus has claimed the lives of 10,612 hospital patients with a further 737 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.
But the true number will be higher as this figure does not include victims who died at home or in care homes.
The Office for National statistics said 20 people had died in care homes across England and Wales in the week up to March 27 of the illness.
Government guidance also says untested new residents can be admitted to nursing homes from their own homes even if they are showing symptoms of the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Society and other care industry leaders believe that the virus is now present in homes that care for around 400,000 people in the UK.
The society fears hundreds of thousand of people with dementia may be being ‘abandoned’ in care homes.
‘My mum and I said goodbye to my dad and told him how much we loved him’: Relatives forced to say heartbreaking farewells to loved ones over the phone during crisis
Cyril Lawrence, 99, was a teenager when football last ground to a halt back in 1939. He is now in hospital after falling ill at a care home
Legacy: Lawrence (front row, third from left) with Stan Mortensen (front row, sixth from left) at Blackpool in 1939
Family members of coronavirus patients have contacted MailOnline with the heartbreaking stories of how they have been forced to say goodbye to their loved ones.
Elaine Shirt had to put her ‘lovely’ father Cyril Lawrence, 99, into respite in a care home after her mother was taken ill recently and went into hospital.
Ms Shirt said her parents were due to return home when the care home her father was in went into lockdown, so he remained there.
Aged 19, in 1939, Mr Lawrence lied about his age in order to register for national service before conscription was introduced.
A budding football player who was on the verge of signing for Blackpool United, he was deployed on the brand new battleship HMS King George V, assigned to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.
He would spend more than five years serving on the ship, which performed an active combat role and witnessed some of the most historic episodes of the war, including the pursuit and sinking of the Bismarck and the surrender of Japan.
Mr Lawrence’s early career at sea was spent on the Arctic convoys delivering aid and essential supplies to the Soviet Union.
He represented the Royal Navy at football, appearing in exhibition matches in Cairo and Alexandria and against New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Ms Shirt said: ‘All was well until Good Friday. We had video calls with him, he looked really well and on Sunday enjoyed his evening meal and even asked if could have had a little more. An hour later, an ambulance arrived and he was taken into hospital.
‘I then tried contacting the hospital and at 4am a lovely Consultant phoned to say my dad was extremely poorly. It was a big shock. He was put on oxygen, fluids and antibiotics and swabs for the virus taken.
‘At 8pm last night my mum and I said goodbye to my dad. Mun told him as I did how much he was loved. He couldn’t speak but we were told he could hear us. It was heartbreaking and the two lovely nurses wearing masks and gloves broke down crying with us.
‘I never in a million years thought this would happen at the end of life. My dad is battling on but it’s just a question of time now.
‘Dad is the longest surviving player of Blackpool Rochdale and Wrexham football clubs.
‘He’s a battler and I know he’s doing his utmost to beat this but I know he won’t. I’m waiting totally heartbroken supporting my mum.
‘My mum will be 100 on June 3, and dad 100 on the 12th. To be cruelly taken like this is just so very sad.’
To keep vulnerable people safe, some care homes have implemented a blanket ban on visitors to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
This has been the case for former social worker Julie Ding, 56, who has not been able to see her dying mother for more than a month.
Julie, from Allerton Bywater, West Yorkshire, was a full-time carer of her mother, Roberta Ding, 83, after she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2018.
Julie Ding, 56, has not been able to see her dying mother for more than a month. Julie was a full-time carer of her mother, Roberta Ding, 83, after she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Pictured, Roberta Ding and her daughters Susan (left) and Julie (right)
Her condition rapidly deteriorated and soon she was unable to walk or speak and could only breathe through a tracheostomy with the help of a ventilator.
Julie said her mother was in hospital before the coronavirus outbreak reached the UK and was subsequently taken to a nursing home on March 2.
It was the last time Julie physically saw her mother as she has only been able to contact her through video calls since.
Julie is desperate for her mother to return home as she worries Roberta’s condition will worsen and she will die at the nursing home alone.
After her only sibling, Susan, died aged 49 in 2010, Julie has no family other than her mother.
‘I made a promise to my mum that I will always be by her side,’ she said.
‘I’m allowed in when she’s in the last throes of death, the manager will decide.’
Jayne Connery, who runs Care Campaign for the Vulnerable, said: ‘We are getting calls from families who are beside themselves. They are being told they can’t go in and see loved ones with dementia even if wearing full safety equipment and yet at the same time the homes are taking in patients with Covid-19.’
Care home staff could be ‘forced to wear bin bags as PPE’
Ceri Roberts, managing director of Cariad Care Homes, in Gwynedd, told the Daily Post that she attempted to buy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from two major suppliers online.
But she was told they were ‘only delivering to care homes in England.’
Ms Roberts said that, unless she manages to get hold of more PPE quickly, by the middle of next week the staff at the Bodawen home in Porthmadog and Plasgwyn in Criccieth will have to wear black bin bags instead.
She said: ‘I tried to buy £550 worth of masks, gloves and aprons only to be offered a couple of boxes of gloves and some hairnets for £83.
‘I couldn’t believe it that one part of the UK was being prioritised over the rest – are masks and aprons only for care staff in England?
‘I was just dumbfounded to be told that they wouldn’t sell to care providers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
‘These are frightening times and my team are doing everything they can to keep the virus at bay because we know if it does get in it will have disastrous consequences.
‘No matter how good your infection control is, if it gets in it will be catastrophic because of the vulnerability of the people we are looking after.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said some distributors are prioritising supply to central UK stocks, which ‘supports a planned and coordinated response’. The spokesman added: ‘The Department of Health and Social Care is working very closely with the devolved administrations in ensuring there is sufficient PPE to meet the clinical need across the health and social care sector.
‘Supply routes have been set up within each nation to provide PPE to frontline services.’
At the Government’s daily press conference at the weekend, Mr Hancock pledged testing in care homes would increase.
Meanwhile, up to 300 people with coronavirus symptoms may have died in Scotland’s care homes, according to industry leaders.
Robert Kilgour, a care home entrepreneur, estimated the death toll as he issued a plea to SNP ministers to stop ‘dragging their heels’ and provide more financial support for the under-pressure industry.
He warned care homes face a ‘tsunami’ of deaths.
The Scottish Government also revealed yesterday cases of the virus are suspected in more than a third of the country’s care homes.
Ministers said figures will be published this week providing the number of suspected Covid-19 cases in homes for the elderly across the country.
Over the last week, it has been confirmed 12 patients with suspected Covid-19 symptoms died at the Burlington Court care home in Cranhill, Glasgow, while another eight died at Castle View, in Dumbarton.
Mr Kilgour, who runs Renaissance Care, said ten patients have died following suspected or confirmed symptoms of the virus in his 15 homes.
He told the Scottish Daily Mail: ‘My estimate is that there are at least 200 and possibly close to 300 suspected care home deaths in Scotland since the beginning of this.
‘With an upward trajectory in cases, care homes are the new front line of this vicious virus.
‘More attention and support certainly needs to be given to the residents and staff.’
Five elderly residents have died at Almond Court in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in recent days, according to The Scottish Sun.
One staff member is also reportedly ill at the 42-bed care home.
The Care Inspectorate confirmed that residents had died at the home following suspected Covid-19 cases with workers in contact with the care service.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) has pledged to review the official rules which oversee how patients are transferred between hospitals and care homes
A spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the tragic death of residents at this care home as a result of suspected cases of Covid-19.
Funeral directors warn coronavirus deaths in care homes ‘are going unreported’
Funeral directors, meanwhile, have also claimed that coronavirus deaths in care homes are going unreported.
At least four homes within Brighton and Hove have been struck by Covid-19, which is increasingly fatal to the elderly or people with underlying health conditions.
‘We have just collected from a home in the Sussex area,’ said one funeral director, who wished to remain anonymous.
‘The doctor has put down the cause of death as dementia and yet when we collected over the weekend, the staff told us she had developed a cough three days ago.
‘A few days after that, the client received a call from the home confirming they had an outbreak of coronavirus.
‘Further to that, we also found out from the surgery that there were seven deaths within the same home within the last number of days.
‘The point is, I strongly believe this is happening now – I would suggest there are a lot more than what’s being said.’
Another funeral director agreed, saying they could ‘absolutely say there are’ deaths happening within the city’s homes.
‘Our thoughts are with the loved ones of those affected as well as the staff and wider community of the home.
‘We have been notified of the circumstances and we are in contact with the care service and the local health and social care partnership during this difficult time.
‘All of Scotland’s social care sector is working under very difficult circumstances to care for people during the pandemic and the Care Inspectorate is doing all it can to support them.’
Yesterday, the Scottish Government confirmed the Care Inspectorate has had reports of confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases from 406 care homes –which is 37 per cent of the total number of care homes.
Mr Kilgour said the next phase of the response to the pandemic should be to carry out more testing of care home residents and called for more funding to help the sector ensure it continues to have personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.
While some councils in England have passed on UK Government funding to care operators to fund PPE investment, Mr Kilgour said there has been a lack of similar action in Scotland.
He said: ‘Local authorities I speak to say they would like to help but they are not getting extra money from the Scottish Government.
‘They say they would like to help us but the money needs to come from the Scottish Government, and the Scottish Government is dragging their heels .’
Across the sector, staff absence rates range from around 15 per cent to around 30 per cent.
The Care Inspectorate has asked all care homes to notify it when they have a suspected case or when a resident dies from the virus, and to keep them updated on staff shortages.
However, the taxpayer-funded watchdog initially refused to publish figures on suspected cases – and suggested anyone looking for the data would need to submit a freedom of information request, a process which can take up to two months.
Elderly told: Say no to hospital
Elderly patients are being pressured into refusing hospital treatment under ‘shameful and discriminatory’ blanket guidelines, leading charities have warned.
Dozens of care homes have been told to check that vulnerable patients have signed Do Not Resuscitate orders and warned that going to hospital was ‘undesirable’ if they got coronavirus.
But campaigners say this means elderly patients who are mostly fit and well could be denied potentially lifesaving treatment if they get coronavirus, potentially breaching their human rights.
Last week, a group of organisations issued a joint statement saying that thousands of older patients had been left believing ‘their lives and wishes do not matter’.
Yesterday, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman intervened and said the data would now be published later this week.
She said: ‘It is really important that we are confident about the robustness and the accuracy of that information.
‘So we are currently working with the Care Inspectorate to check and double check the information they are working with before we have the confidence to release that.’
On funding for care homes, Miss Freeman said: ‘There may well be more we need to do. Along with PPE, looking at what support is needed in care homes and in the care at home sector is something that is a constant part of our work.’
A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate said: ‘The Care Inspectorate is working closely with care providers, health and social care partnerships, care industry leaders and the Scottish Government to ensure services get the support they need during the pandemic.’
Meanwhile, Miss Freeman announced yesterday that social care staff will get an immediate 3.3 per cent pay rise – backdated to April 1 – with workers providing direct adult support to be paid at least £9.30 an hour.
Miss Freeman said in a statement: ‘The measures we are announcing in partnership with Cosla today will ensure all people providing adult social care receive the real living wage for every hour worked with immediate effect, rather than having to wait until later in the year.’
Care worker ‘told to work despite displaying covid-19 symptoms’ is hospitalised with virus
By Milly Vincent
An anonymous care worker from the South West detailed how a manager at Feltcher House care home in Wells, Somerset, ‘told carers to come to work despite a cough’.
She said: ‘The manager of the care home at Fletcher house said ‘Don’t think if you’ve got a cough you’re not coming in to work’. The carers work really hard and always turn up for work so for someone to say that to them, of course they are going to come in.
‘And then one of the supervisors got admitted to hospital for three days with coronavirus last week.’
‘She had been working up until then, she could have infected people in the care home and others she was working with. But they had no masks.’
Speaking of her own experience with the virus the carer, who does not work for Fletcher House, said: ‘I had the cough and couldn’t taste anything, I could have drank a glass of vinegar.
‘The first week wasn’t too bad, I had a temperature, but the second week hit me like a rock. I couldn’t walk upstairs without gasping and it was touch and go whether I would have to go to hospital. But I made it through and i’m fine.
‘The doctor told me to stay at home after the first week even though I felt better, and thank god he did, otherwise I would have gone back to work. We just don’t know as there is no testing.
‘Fortunately I had a mask and was wearing it religiously, thank god I was because otherwise I would have infected everybody that i’d gone to care for in their homes and everyone that I work with – the eldest woman that I work with is 105, it would have been life threatening for her.’
‘There’s no PPE for most care workers, just gloves and aprons.’
MailOnline has contacted Fletcher House, run by Somerset Care, for comment.