Coronavirus in hundreds MORE care homes than government claims, reveals boss of one of UK’s biggest chains – The Sun

MORE than 300 residents have died of suspected coronavirus at one of the UK's largest care home companies, one of its bosses said today.

Sir David Behan, executive chairman of HC One, says 232 – or around two thirds – of the firm's homes have Covid-19 outbreaks, with 2,447 confirmed or suspected cases.

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Yesterday, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, said 13 per cent of care homes across Britain had been struck by the deadly virus so far.

Some 311 residents and one member of staff are thought to have died from the disease at HC One homes, with care workers feeling "helpless", Sir David said.

Sir David, former chief executive of medical watchdog the Care Quality Commission, believes the grim figures are "a more realistic picture" of what is going on in care homes nationally.

Care home deaths aren't included in the government's daily number of fatalities, with fears the number of those killed is much higher.

It comes an ex minister warned care home residents have been "abandoned like lambs to the slaughter".

TWO THIRDS OF HOMES HIT

Sir David told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We've been monitoring these numbers since the beginning of the outbreak and as of yesterday evening at 8 o'clock we'd had 2,447 of either suspected or confirmed Covid-19 within our care homes.

"It's present in 232 of our homes which is about two-thirds of the total number of homes that we run.

"And again, as of last night, there have been 311 residents who have died as a result of, or suspected, Covid-19. And indeed sadly over the weekend we've lost one member of staff.

"Covid-19 deaths are representative of about… just under about a third of all deaths that we've had over the past three weeks.

"So this isn't just an issue of deaths from Covid-19 as I've already said, this is a very frail group of older people and we'd normally have a number of deaths taking place throughout the winter months and we're also dealing with that as well."

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The deaths at the homes made up about a third of overall deaths in the last three weeks.

Yesterday, Britain was warned deaths "will increase further" this week after 717 more people lost their lives to the bug.

The country reached another grim milestone today with the number of deaths from Covid-19 reaching 11,329 as confirmed cases also rose to 88,621 – up from 84,279 infections yesterday

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is now releasing the numbers of deaths in care homes.

But they are based on death certificates which take time to issue and cause a lag in numbers of deaths confirmed.

Industry chiefs believe the true figure of deaths in care homes is feared to be around 1,000.

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Frontline care home staff are facing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) as they treat patients with symptoms of the deadly virus.

Sir David said: "We have got staff feeling anxious not just about PPE, but also anxious that they will catch the virus and take it home to their loved ones.

"Anmd indeed with this high number of deaths staff feeling helpless that they are unable to help people that they in many respects have cared for for number of years."

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey insisted today that the care sector is not being left behind.

PPE SHAMBLES

She said: "In fact, the PPE is being delivered to over 26,000 care settings across the country including care homes, home care providers and also hospices.

"So it is not a case that they are being left out; understandably, with the advice of the chief medical officer, we are prioritising our focus on where the clinical need is the greatest."

She added: "I think it is important that we continue to try and get that PPE out daily, not only to the NHS but to other key users of that."

Earlier today, Nadra Ahmed, chairwoman of the National Care Association, told ITV's Good Morning Britain that care homes were struggling to source and pay for personal protective equipment and prices were "not sustainable" for the care sector.

She said the Government had removed VAT on the essential kit for the NHS and urged it to do the same for the social care sector.

Ms Ahmed said one provider had paid £8,500 for just one week's worth of PPE, adding: "We've said to the Chancellor 'take the VAT off PPE, these are essential items'.

"They've taken it off for the NHS but they've not moved it for social care… without our staff we can't deliver the care."

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