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Number of Covid-19 deaths by individual care home in Cambridgeshire confirmed by CQC

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The number of deaths involving Covid-19 at individual care homes has been released for the first time by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The data covers more than 39,000 deaths reported to the CQC between April 10, 2020, and March 31, 2021, illustrating the terrible toll the virus has taken on care homes.

More than 39,000 care home residents have died following suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infection in the country
More than 39,000 care home residents have died following suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infection in the country

The release follows campaigning for transparency from families. Until now, data showing how individual care homes have been affected has not been available as the CQC argued that releasing it would undermine confidence in the private care home market.

Instead, there have been weekly updates from the CQC and Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the total number of care home residents who have died with Covid-19.

Importantly, the data includes care home residents who died in other settings, such as hospitals, and does not indicate where the resident caught the virus.

The CQC stressed that the information does not suggest whether a care home is offering good or poor quality care. Instead, many factors affect the number of deaths - such as the level of infection in a community, and the age and health of care home residents.

The data - which the Cambridge Independent is making available here on a map and searchable database - shows that the virus took the biggest toll on Primrose Hill, a large care home in Huntingdon, which lost 20 residents following confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infection, while 19 residents at The Gables, a large care home in Whittlesea, lost their lives.

In the Cambridge region, two care homes lost 17 residents following confirmed or suspected coronavirus infection during the period covered - Midfield Lodge in Oakington and Bramley Court in Histon.

Nationally, the worst affected care home lost 44 residents to the virus, while there were 21 homes reporting thirty-plus deaths.

The CQC report notes that almost half the deaths (18,261) happened between April and June 2020 and there was a second peak between January and March 2021, after the spread of the Alpha, or Kent, variant.

In the early days of the pandemic - between March 17 and April 15, 2020 - about 25,000 people were allowed to return to care homes from hospitals without a Covid-19 test, a disastrous policy that helped the virus spread rapidly among their vulnerable populations.

Kate Terroni, CQC’s chief inspector for adult social care, said: "In considering this data it is important to remember that every number represents a life lost - and families, friends and those who cared for them who are having to face the sadness and consequences of their death.

“We are grateful for the time that families who lost their loved ones during the pandemic have spent meeting with us and the personal experiences they have shared. These discussions have helped us shape our thinking around the highly sensitive issue of publishing information on the numbers of death notifications involving Covid-19 received from individual care homes.

“We have a duty to be transparent and to act in the public interest, and we made a commitment to publish data at this level, but only once we felt were able to do so as accurately and safely as possible given the complexity and sensitivity of the data.

“In doing so, we aim to provide a more comprehensive picture of the impact of Covid-19 on care homes, the people living in them and their families. It is important to be clear, however, that although this data relates to deaths of people who were care home residents, many of them did not die in or contract Covid-19 in a care home.

“As we publish this data, we ask for consideration and respect to be shown to people living in care homes, to families who have been affected, and to the staff who have done everything they could, in incredibly difficult circumstances, to look after those in their care.”

The data was released after campaigning from families
The data was released after campaigning from families

Of the nine regions in England, the East of England had the third highest number of Covid-19 death notifications of care home residents, with 4,943, behind the North West (5,748) and the South East (7,404).

Releasing the full data, the CQC added: “The impact of the pandemic on people who draw on and work in adult social care services has been devastating and despite the best efforts of staff, Covid-19 has contributed to a significant increase in the number of deaths in nursing and residential care settings.

“Throughout the pandemic, CQC has encouraged care providers to be open with people in their care and their loved ones and most providers have ensured that information about the circumstance of people’s deaths is shared appropriately.

“It is important to note that death notifications do not in themselves indicate poor quality care, particularly given the potential influence of variable factors, including rates of local community transmission, size of the care home, and the age and health and care needs of the people living there.

“Moreover, many notifications relate to the deaths of care home residents which occurred in other care settings.”

Care home operators have expressed misgivings about the release of the data.

Care England, which represents independent care providers, said it had been in correspondence with the CQC for nine months on the issue.

Its chief executive Prof Martin Green said: “It is important that the statistics are seen in context and that the entire system learns lessons from this data. We do not believe that this data is a reflection of quality and I would like to pay tribute to all the frontline staff who have done a heroic job and it must not be forgotten that many of them lost their lives too.”

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