ONS data suggests government action on social care came too late to stem avoidable loss of life Health Foundation response to ONS weekly deaths in England and Wales

19 May 2020

Commenting on today’s release of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data: Deaths registered weekly in England and Wales, provisional: week ending 8 May 2020, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation, said:

'Today’s figures show that the number of COVID-19 related deaths in care homes in England and Wales are now falling. However, the number of weekly deaths in care homes from any cause remains significantly above the five-year average, with 2,247 excess deaths in the week ending 8 May. This is in contrast with hospitals where weekly deaths have returned to below the historic average. So far there have been 9,980 overall deaths related to COVID-19 in care homes.

'The government ‘action plan’ for social care was published nearly a month after the lockdown was introduced on 23 March. The mortality data suggest that the action has come too late to stem the avoidable loss of life for care home residents, and social care staff – mostly women – who are about twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as other adults. The government’s approach to social care stands in contrast to the NHS which saw a much fuller and swifter response to the pandemic.

'The need for urgent reform of social care to address inadequate funding, staff shortages linked to poor pay and conditions in the sector, and care providers at risk of collapse is well known. While no action plan could undo decades of political neglect, questions should be asked as to how many deaths could have been prevented had action been taken earlier. Reform is now critical.'

Media contact

Simon Perry
Simon.Perry@health.org.uk
020 7257 2093

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