Dire warnings from care home sector borne out in the latest data Health Foundation response to weekly ONS mortality data for England and Wales

28 April 2020

Commenting on today’s release of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data: Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales for the week ending the 17 April 2020, Sarah Deeny, Assistant Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said:

‘The increasingly dire warnings from the care home sector are borne out in the latest mortality data for the week ending 17 April, published today. Last week we reported that, for the first time since the start of the outbreak (in the week ending 10 April), deaths in care homes had overtaken deaths in the community. Data released today shows that the trend has accelerated.

‘Hospitals continue to see the highest number of deaths, with a total of 9,434 deaths in the week ending 17 April. But the number of deaths in hospitals, and in people’s homes, have seen a smaller rise – hospitals saw an increase of 10% on the previous week. In contrast, deaths in care homes are rising more steeply than deaths in those settings and saw 7,316 deaths from all causes – a week-on-week increase of 48.5%. Of these, 2,050 have been directly linked to COVID-19, raising questions about the accuracy of reporting and highlighting the need to understand the underlying reasons behind the increase. To put this into context, the 5-year average for the same week in care homes was 2,154.

‘Today’s data highlights the extent of the challenge for the social care sector in caring for the elderly and vulnerable and protecting them against COVID-19. The system is clearly in acute need of support and, while the government has proposed a plan of action, more needs to be done in the short and long term. To understand how to best look after those in care homes it is essential we have an accurate and timely picture of what is happening. The government needs to take immediate action to better record cases, deaths and wider health needs in care homes.’

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