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The official coronavirus death toll has come under fire recently after it was revealed the figures did not include deaths in care homes or people who passed away in their own homes. Elderly charity Age UK claimed coronavirus is “running wild” in care homes and accused the Government of “airbrushing” figures. Britain’s largest care home operator, HC-One added that coronavirus was present in over 200 of their care homes – equalling two-thirds of facilities.
How many coronavirus care home deaths have there been?
The number of care home residents who have died from coronavirus could be up to five times more than the Government estimates, Care England warns.
Care England is the country’s biggest representative body for care homes.
It told the Telegraph that up to 7,500 care home residents may have died as a result of COVID-19.
The Government released figures at the start of the week which estimates that the death toll in care homes was 1,400.
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Care home bosses at Care England believe the true number to be as high as 1,000 given that the death toll is based on death certificates, which can take time to issue, therefore causing a deficit in the number of deaths recorded.
The 1,000 figure includes cases where coronavirus is suspected or confirmed and covers the time leading up to April 3.
Once home and care home deaths are confirmed and the true death toll is determined, the numbers could be up to 15 percent higher.
Sir David Behan, executive chairman of HC One, says there are an estimated 2,447 confirmed or suspected cases in care homes in the UK.
The Daily Mail reports that coronavirus deaths in the UK have now surpassed 5,000.
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Sir Behan said this had left staff and residents feeling “hopeless”.
President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Julie Ogley said she believes as many people could die from the virus inside care homes as in hospitals, where the death toll surpassed 21,000 today.
Meanwhile, Scotland has confirmed that COVID-19 is present in around a third of their residential care homes.
Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the virus had been detected in 406 facilities.
Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey defended the Government’s strategy to exclude deaths before a death certificate was issued.
Ms Coffey told BBC’s Today Programme: “That is a fair system of getting that unfortunate picture across the country where there are deaths from coronavirus.
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“We are absolutely being transparent, but what the Government wants to provide at its daily briefings is quick information, accurate information.”
Former Government minister Ros Altmanmn said elderly people were being unfairly overlooked during the pandemic.
Mr Altmann said: “We must not forget that the mark of a civilised society must reflect how it treats its most vulnerable and elderly citizens.
“We must not forget the most elderly in our population – the average age of people in our care homes is 85 – their lives are also valuable and they need the treatment and the equipment and the care that we would expect for anyone else in society as well.”
Charities including Alzheimer’s Society, Marie curie, Age UK and Care England penned a letter to the Government in protest of the findings.
The letter read: “We are appalled by the devastation which coronavirus is causing in the care system and we have been undaunted with desperate calls from the people we support, so we are demanding a comprehensive care package to support social care through the pandemic.
“As a first step we urgently need testing and protective equipment made available to care homes – as we’re seeing people in them being abandoned to the worst that coronavirus can do.
“A lack of protective equipment means staff are putting their own lives at risk while also carrying the virus to highly vulnerable groups.
“Care England estimates that there have been nearly a thousand deaths already, yet deaths from coronavirus in care homes are not being officially recorded or published, social care is the neglected frontline.”
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