Commenting on today’s release of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data: Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 1 May 2020, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation, said:
'Today’s data shows that action to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in social care has been late and inadequate, and has highlighted significant weaknesses in the social care system. COVID-19 has ultimately magnified the human impact of decades of underfunding in the sector and policy neglect.
'There were 6,409 deaths in care homes in the week ending 1 May, exceeding the number of deaths in hospitals (6,397). In recent weeks we’ve seen rising deaths among care home residents from COVID-19, while deaths in hospitals and in people’s homes have fallen, having hit their peak in early April. While today’s figures show that overall deaths from all causes, and COVID-19 deaths, in care homes may be stabilising this should not lead to complacency. The toll of 8,312 COVID-related deaths in care homes since the start of the outbreak is deeply concerning.
'Sadly, those working in social care are at almost twice the rate of death due to COVID-19. There were 23.3 deaths per 100,000 for men and 9.6 deaths per 100,000 for women working in social care, compared to 9.9 deaths per 100,000 in men and 5.2 deaths per 100,000 women in the general population. The death rate among women care workers and home carers (who provide direct care to people in their own homes), was particularly stark with 12.7 deaths per 100,000 women, making them the highest risk group of women in any occupation.
'The government needs immediately to ensure adequate measures in social care to prevent infection, such as PPE for staff and adequate testing. More fundamentally it cannot any longer duck its responsibility to reform social care through adequate funding of the system, addressing staff shortages, and improving terms and conditions for care workers.'