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THE increase in care-sector deaths during the coronavirus pandemic was branded “horrific” today as figures showed that more than 12,500 people in care homes have died of Covid-19.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed that more than one in four deaths in care homes in England and Wales between March 2 and May 1 involved Covid-19.
Some 45,899 care home residents died during this period, with more than a quarter having Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
Of the 12,526 coronavirus deaths, 72 per cent occurred in a care home and the virus was the leading cause of death among male patients at such sites.
In the light of the new figures, Labour has called for greater priority to be given to social care.
“It is horrific to see such a large increase in the number of people dying in care homes, and it’s clear that the virus is having an even bigger impact on care-home residents than was first thought,” shadow social-care minister Liz Kendall said.
“The government has been too slow to get to grips with this problem.
“Despite recent announcements there is still complete confusion about testing, with care homes telling MPs they have been unable to access tests.
“This is not good enough. Supporting people in care homes must be an absolute priority and the government must now give social care the focus, resources and support it needs to stop the spread of this awful virus.”
Meanwhile Scottish Labour called for the withdrawal and correction of guidance regarding coronavirus and care homes published by Health Protection Scotland this week.
The party said it has serious concerns over the quality of the advice and the prospect of delays to urgent testing.
The document advises that if there is an outbreak of coronavirus in a care home which is part of a group or chain, testing should be carried out “urgently.”
Despite this, the party says, the guidance states that a contingency plan must be in place before that testing is carried out.
And amid reports that care workers are struggling to access Covid-19 tests, testing centres also reportedly closed early this week due to lack of demand.
Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “We can’t take any chances with care-home safety.
“Care homes are at the centre of the crisis and we can’t afford any more missed opportunities to save lives.
“The guidance is nowhere close enough to a comprehensive testing policy for care homes.”
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