People who are residents of England’s care homes will likely make up around 57% of all coronavirus-related deaths by the end of June, a new study warns.
The analysis, produced by healthcare business consultancy LaingBuisson, says this will equate to 34 000 deaths out of a total of 59 000 deaths across the entire English population.
It is based on data from the Office for National Statistics, as well as the analyst’s own modelling of the number of care home resident deaths likely to have happened if there was no pandemic.
Aged care facilities not properly protected
LaingBuisson’s findings complement the concerns voiced elsewhere in England that care homes were not adequately protected in the pandemic’s earlier stages. Some experts said that patients should not have been moved back to care homes in March.
There were also criticisms that other healthcare had not been adequately available during the pandemic, causing care home residents to die from other illnesses.
Discharged to free up hospital capacity
According to The Guardian newspaper, a letter sent to care providers from NHS England and the government on 19 March ordered “the safe and rapid discharge of those people who no longer need to be in a hospital bed. The new default will be discharge home today”. The aim was to free up hospital capacity.
“Figures released by NHS England show 25 060 patients were moved from hospitals to care homes between 17 March and mid-April, when guidance was formally changed to ensure testing took place,” the newspaper reported.
Aged treatment is an ‘emerging scandal’
William Laing, the author of the study, said the high number of deaths among care home residents, was “a scandal which is just emerging”.
“At the peak of the crisis, there were widespread reports of normal medical support simply being removed from care homes,” he said. “Ambulances would not turn up to take emergencies to hospital, since capacity had to be kept clear for Covid cases.
“In-person GP house calls were replaced with occasional telephone calls. In the absence of any expectation of active medical support, care home residents were encouraged to consider what instructions they should give in the case of serious illness from whatever cause, with many opting for DNR (‘Do Not Resuscitate’).”