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Why can’t the elderly go to the empty Nightingales?

Furious families have today accused the Government of ‘sacrificing’ Britain’s elderly in the fight against coronavirus by discharging COVID-19 patients into care homes and signing the ‘death warrant’ of the most vulnerable in society. 

NHS hospitals have been ordered to drastically free up beds, meaning thousands of patients have been released, with scores of elderly Britons meeting the criteria sent to care homes dotted across the UK.

In a revolt against the ‘dangerous’ drive, some care homes have already refused to accept patients over coronavirus fears – not everyone is swabbed for the killer virus before they are discharged from hospital.  

But one home in Essex was allegedly forced to accept an elderly COVID-19 patient ‘against their wishes’ before they were re-admitted to hospital the next day. The daughter of a 96-year-old resident accused Number 10 of ‘recklessly exposing’ others to the infection. 

In Herefordshire, a dementia-stricken 78-year-old was discharged from hospital to a care home, without her family being told. She also had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) notice along with the orders not to send back to hospital if she caught coronavirus.

Demanding action from Downing Street, her daughter said: ‘My mother has worked all her life and paid into the NHS they do not have the right to sign her death warrant because she’s old and has dementia.’

Despite hospitals being told to free up space, it was revealed last night that London’s Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre sat almost empty with just 19 coronavirus patients treated over the Easter weekend. 

It comes after care industry bosses yesterday suggested that two thirds of all homes across Britain have recorded coronavirus cases. Around 500,000 people are in care homes in the UK.

The Birchwood Residential Care Home, in Essex, was allegedly forced to accept an elderly COVID-19 patient 'against their wishes' before they were re-admitted to hospital the next day

The Birchwood Residential Care Home, in Essex, was allegedly forced to accept an elderly COVID-19 patient 'against their wishes' before they were re-admitted to hospital the next day

The Birchwood Residential Care Home, in Essex, was allegedly forced to accept an elderly COVID-19 patient ‘against their wishes’ before they were re-admitted to hospital the next day

Workers help prepare the ExCel London centre, which has been made into the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital

Workers help prepare the ExCel London centre, which has been made into the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital

Workers help prepare the ExCel London centre, which has been made into the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital

Cyril Lawrence, 99, was a teenager when football last ground to a halt back in 1939. He is now in hospital after falling ill at a care home

Cyril Lawrence, 99, was a teenager when football last ground to a halt back in 1939. He is now in hospital after falling ill at a care home

Cyril Lawrence, 99,is now in hospital after falling ill at a care home

Carole Foster, 77, passed away last Wednesday at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, just one day after being admitted

Carole Foster, 77, passed away last Wednesday at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, just one day after being admitted

Carole Foster, 77, passed away last Wednesday at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, just one day after being admitted

HIDDEN EPIDEMIC OF CORONAVIRUS IN CARE HOMES MAY HAVE COST 4,000 LIVES, EXPERTS WARN 

A ‘hidden epidemic’ of coronavirus in care homes may have cost 4,000 lives, experts warned last night. 

They believe deaths are being hugely under-reported because of a lack of testing.

GPs are also sometimes reluctant to write COVID-19 on death certificates and figures from care homes are not included in the official daily toll. 

The latest report from the Office for National Statistics says the virus killed 217 care home residents in England and Wales up to April 3. 

But industry figures say the true count is much higher – potentially 4,000 since the outbreak started. 

Campaigners and MPs warned yesterday of an ‘unfolding horror’ that could end up with tens of thousands of forgotten victims. 

Ministers face urgent calls to get a grip and get virus tests for all staff and residents with symptoms, more protection gear and a Cabinet minister to deal with the crisis.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night pledged action on testing and is also expected to outline a plan to address the crisis in a social care strategy. 

Care home operators complain they are being overlooked, with desperate short – ages of testing and staff safety equipment making it extremely hard to stop the disease ravaging their sites. 

Grim statistics released yesterday also showed the number of coronavirus deaths in care homes rose ten-fold by the start of April, up from just 20 for the week ending March 27.

But the true scale of the coronavirus catastrophe in Britain’s care homes is a mystery because the figures released by the Office for National Statistics are almost two weeks out-of-date.  

Number 10 is under mounting pressure to start recording all coronavirus deaths, wherever they happen, amid the accusations the true toll is being swept under the carpet.

The UK’s care home regulator, the Care Quality Commission, announced it would step in to collect daily numbers of coronavirus deaths. 

Helen Buniak revealed her 96-year-old mother’s home was ‘ordered’ to admit a coronavirus patient from hospital ‘against their wishes’ on April 8.

She alleged that the Birchwood Residential Care Home, in Ilford, was told it was ‘Government policy’.

The discharged patient only stayed in the facility for one day before they were re-admitted to hospital, Ms Buniak claimed. 

She told MailOnline: ‘How shocking and completely reckless to allow the virus to enter into a care home that was clear of the virus.

‘However much the staff did their best to isolate the patient, there is still a serious risk that the virus could spread and cause multiple deaths.’ 

Ms Buniak said it seemed like the lives of older people in care homes are ‘invisible’ and argued: ‘The Government is willing to sacrifice them.’ 

‘The Government’s so called policy to shield those most vulnerable clearly does not apply to the elderly in care homes.’

The Birchwood care home, which looks after around 40 elderly patients, is one of dozens to have limited routine visits from family members.  

Another MailOnline reader revealed her elderly dementia-stricken mother was discharged to a care home, without checking with her. 

Her mother, of Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, was stuck in hospital because health officials had yet to find a care package for her.

She told MailOnline: ‘Due to the COVID-19 outbreak most care homes in Hereford with places refused to take her so she was there a while. 

‘The hospital were getting really annoyed because they wanted her out as soon as possible and the bed freed up.

‘On Sunday (April 12) they discharged her to a care home in Worcestershire without consulting me or checking the home could meet her complex needs.’

The woman – who wanted to remain anonymous – added: ‘She arrived with a DNR, which said do not transfer back to hospital if she contracts COVID-19. 

‘My mother has worked all her life and paid into the NHS they do not have the right to sign her death warrant because she’s old and has dementia.

Debbie Cholwill said her mother, who had dementia and was living  in a care home, passed away on April 10 after testing positive for coronavirus

Debbie Cholwill said her mother, who had dementia and was living  in a care home, passed away on April 10 after testing positive for coronavirus

debbie Cholwill said her mother, who had dementia and was living in a care home, passed away on April 10 after testing positive for coronavirus

Chris Schmid told MailOnline his great aunt Isabel Francis, 94, (pictured) passed away in Fieldway care home in Mitcham, South London on Friday, April 10

Chris Schmid told MailOnline his great aunt Isabel Francis, 94, (pictured) passed away in Fieldway care home in Mitcham, South London on Friday, April 10

Chris Schmid told MailOnline his great aunt Isabel Francis, 94, passed away in Fieldway care home in Mitcham, South London on Friday, April 10

TRUE DEATH TOLL COULD BE 12,000

There are no official figures on the number of care home deaths so far, but some estimates put the toll as high as 12,000. 

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says evidence from France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Ire – land suggests between 4 2 per cent and 57 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths happen in care homes. 

There have been 1 2,000 deaths officially in the UK so far, according to Government figures which only cover hospitals. 

It could mean there have been another 1 2,000 in care homes. The Office for National Statistics puts the number at only 217 but its figures are 11 days out of date at a time when the death rate has risen dramatically. 

Care England, which represents independent care providers, and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey both estimate the toll to be at least 1,000. 

The Mail’s own audit has found 951 deaths, but many care homes have declined to give figures. The Alzheimer’s Society estimates there have been 2,500 deaths

‘If my mum gets sick with COVID-19 she will be left to die and the hospital will refuse to admit her because the DNR will be in her notes.’ 

NHS trusts are trying to discharge patients who do not need round-the-clock care to free up capacity for the expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

But care home managers are refusing to accept elderly people over fears they might bring the virus into the homes.

Under guidance issued by the government last week, testing is not mandatory for discharged patients.

David Steedman, the manager of Arlington House care home in Sussex, admitted he had five empty rooms but refused to take in people discharged from hospitals.

He said it would be ‘madness’ to expose residents and staff to the risk of infection, the Guardian reports.

Last week the Government promised every social care provider in the country would receive deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks.

Mr Steedman told the paper: ‘The personal protective equipment issued for staff is laughable.

‘These masks, as well as having an expiry date of 2016, are the sort of flimsy, paper thing that dentists wear with gaps all round the edges.

‘The instructions say they should be used if a resident has symptoms of the virus or actually has it. But these masks are completely useless in those situations.’

It comes after it was warned last night that a ‘hidden epidemic’ of coronavirus in care homes may have cost 4,000 lives. 

Experts believe deaths are being hugely under-reported because of a lack of testing.

GPs are also sometimes reluctant to write COVID-19 on death certificates and figures from care homes are not included in the official daily toll. 

The latest report from the Office for National Statistics says the virus killed 217 care home residents in England and Wales up to April 3. 

But industry figures say the true count is much higher – potentially 4,000 since the outbreak started. 

One leading statistician the numbers were being underestimated because GPs were unwilling to record ‘covid’ on death certificates if they hadn’t seen the patient. 

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, who is based at the Faculty of Mathematics at Cambridge University, highlighted emergency laws which came into force last month which enable doctors to certify deaths without being in physical attendance.

Stanley Park care home in Stanley after thirteen residents died after displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms

Stanley Park care home in Stanley after thirteen residents died after displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms

Stanley Park care home in Stanley after thirteen residents died after displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms

Mark Gordon fears his mother Susan (above), a 76-year-old terminally-ill cancer patient, is too weak to fight off coronavirus after contracting the infection while at a Tayside care home. He claims staff did not use PPE when dealing with patients

Mark Gordon fears his mother Susan (above), a 76-year-old terminally-ill cancer patient, is too weak to fight off coronavirus after contracting the infection while at a Tayside care home. He claims staff did not use PPE when dealing with patients

Mark Gordon fears his mother Susan (above), a 76-year-old terminally-ill cancer patient, is too weak to fight off coronavirus after contracting the infection while at a Tayside care home. He claims staff did not use PPE when dealing with patients

George Hillhouse's 74-year-old mother, Helen Smith, died at Almond Court care home in Drumchapel, Glasgow, on Saturday

George Hillhouse's 74-year-old mother, Helen Smith, died at Almond Court care home in Drumchapel, Glasgow, on Saturday

George Hillhouse’s 74-year-old mother, Helen Smith, died at Almond Court care home in Drumchapel, Glasgow, on Saturday

LONDON’S NEW MAKE-SHIFT HOSPITAL HAD JUST 19 PATIENTS OVER EASTER 

A hospital bed and respirator at ExCel London

A hospital bed and respirator at ExCel London

A hospital bed and respirator at ExCel London

London‘s Nightingale Hospital sat almost empty with just 19 coronavirus patients treated over the Easter weekend.

The 4,000 capacity flagship hospital was opened by Prince Charles via video link almost two weeks ago and is designed to handle a large surge in coronavirus cases.

However data circulated to health chiefs and seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) shows some hospitals have been able to double their ICU capacity, to 1,555 beds, despite rising levels of infections.

It also showed only 19 patients were receiving treatment over the Easter weekend at the facility located in the Docklands.

Under the Government’s Coronavirus Act, which was passed on March 25, doctors are allowed to carry out the process of death registration over-the-phone.

The new powers were intended to reduce the likelihood of GPs contracting the infection but Sir David said the upshot was that they were less inclined to record the virus as the cause of death.

Other organisations including the Alzheimer’s Society and Care England, the main representative body for social care organisations, said the death toll was being hugely underplayed by the lack of tests.

Currently only hospital patients and some frontline staff are being tested for the virus, although the Government hopes to roll this out to other key workers and the wider public if the capacity increases

Sir David said: ‘Less than 10 per cent of deaths are being coded for covid deaths outside hospitals. That’s at home, or in care homes.

‘Under a new regulation, doctors do not actually have to see a patient to register their deaths now. They can do it over the phone with a description of their symptoms.

‘I could understand many doctors or GPs not being willing to put covid on a death certificate when they’ve neither had a test, nor seen the patient.

‘Unfortunately, we don’t seem to know yet how many of these extra deaths are being registered without even seeing the patient. That seems to me very important to have that piece of information.’

Speaking to the BBC’s World At One, he added: ‘There are suggestions going around that doctors are kind of being encouraged not to put covid on the death certificate.’

He did not explain who was pressuring doctors not to report the virus on the death certificates or why.

But medical professionals are urged not to record an illness as cause of death unless they are very sure.  

Nick Stripe, head of the health analysis and life events division at the Office for National Statistics said: ‘It could be that the doctor certifying the death, to the best of their knowledge, is not sure enough that there is possibly covid involved to put it on the death certificate.

CARE HOMES REFUSING TO ACCEPT DISCHARGED PATIENTS OVER FEARS THEY’LL BRING VIRUS WITH THEM 

NHS trusts are trying to discharge patients who do not need round-the-clock care to free up capacity for the expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

But care home managers are refusing to accept elderly people over fears they might bring the virus into the homes.

Under guidance issued by the government last week, testing is not mandatory for discharged patients.

David Steedman, the manager of Arlington House care home in Sussex, admitted he had five empty rooms but refused to take in people discharged from hospitals.

He said it would be ‘madness’ to expose residents and staff to the risk of infection, the Guardian reports.

Last week the Government promised every social care provider in the country would receive deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks.

Mr Steedman told the paper: ‘The personal protective equipment issued for staff is laughable.

‘These masks, as well as having an expiry date of 2016, are the sort of flimsy, paper thing that dentists wear with gaps all round the edges.

‘The instructions say they should be used if a resident has symptoms of the virus or actually has it. But these masks are completely useless in those situations.’

‘It’s dependent of the doctor, understanding the patient’s background and recent symptoms in terms of what in their medical opinion they put on the death certificate.’

Research by the London School of Economics over the weekend suggested that about half of coronavirus deaths in Europe were occurring in care homes.

In Belgium the figure was estimated to be 42 per cent, rising to 53 per cent in Italy and 57 per cent in Spain.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the official figures were ‘airbrushing older people out like they didn’t matter’.

She added: ‘Any suggestion that these spiralling care home deaths are somehow inevitable would be utterly wrong, sounding suspiciously like an excuse for failings of national policy and practice.’

Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary of Unison which represents many care home staff said: ‘These figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

‘A comprehensive programme of testing of staff and the people they look after should start at once.

‘Without daily updates on the number of people dying in residential care and their own homes, it’s impossible to track the spread of the virus. Hospital deaths are only part of the picture.’

Campaigners and MPs warned yesterday of an ‘unfolding horror’ that could end up with tens of thousands of forgotten victims. 

Ministers face urgent calls to get a grip and get virus tests for all staff and residents with symptoms, more protection gear and a Cabinet minister to deal with the crisis.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night pledged action on testing and is also expected to outline a plan to address the crisis in a social care strategy. 

Care home operators complain they are being overlooked, with desperate short – ages of testing and staff safety equipment making it extremely hard to stop the disease ravaging their sites. 

Care minister Helen Whately was blasted today for sniggering in a car crash TV interview about the ‘hidden epidemic’ of coronavirus in care homes. 

She was taken to task by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain as he grilled her over a Mail exclusive that deaths in care facilities are being hugely under-reported.   

Piers (left) slammed the minister (right) for laughing during the interview as he asked about care home deaths

Piers (left) slammed the minister (right) for laughing during the interview as he asked about care home deaths

Piers (left) slammed the minister (right) for laughing during the interview as he asked about care home deaths 

She said her laughter was a reaction to him showing her the front page of the newspaper, when she was unable to see him due to not having a screen visible showing the GMB host.

She said her laughter was a reaction to him showing her the front page of the newspaper, when she was unable to see him due to not having a screen visible showing the GMB host.

She said her laughter was a reaction to him showing her the front page of the newspaper, when she was unable to see him due to not having a screen visible showing the GMB host.

Avice Howarth's mother, who was living in a care home. passed away on April 10

Avice Howarth's mother, who was living in a care home. passed away on April 10

Avice Howarth’s mother, who was living in a care home. passed away on April 10

Jane Rudge's mother is a resident at Hopwood Court care home in Alvechurch, Worcestershire. The 94-year-old is now ill, with suspected Covid-19

Jane Rudge's mother is a resident at Hopwood Court care home in Alvechurch, Worcestershire. The 94-year-old is now ill, with suspected Covid-19

Jane Rudge’s mother is a resident at Hopwood Court care home in Alvechurch, Worcestershire. The 94-year-old is now ill, with suspected COVID-19

NHS ORDERED TO FREE UP 30,000 BEDS BY CANCELLING OPERATIONS AND REMOVING THOUSANDS OF INPATIENTS

The NHS has been ordered to free up 30,000 beds to make room for an expected surge in coronavirus cases.

A letter sent to trusts by NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has called on hospitals to postpone all non-urgent planned operations from today until at least three months. 

This will free up between 12-15,000 beds, according to the letter seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

It will mean thousands of patients will miss out on knee and hip replacements. 

Organ donors will not be able to donate until at least summer.

Trusts are also being asked to discharge all inpatients who are ‘medically fit to leave’, which could free up another 15,000 beds.

Bulk-buying beds from independent providers and using community hospital beds could see up to 10,000 additional beds for COVID-19 patients, the letter claims.   

NHS bosses also told trusts to free up their private patient unit beds to create extra capacity.

The move could see hospitals lose millions of pounds of income. 

More than 1,000 beds within the NHS are available for private patients, according to think tank the Centre for Health and the Public Interest, with income of around £600m a year. 

Mrs Whately, 43, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent,  insisted that the Government has been working hard to tackle the crisis.

But Piers insisted she answer questions about deaths in care homes, telling her he expected her to be working hard.

He asked: ‘Is it true that 4,000 people have died in care home? Yes or no?’ 

The Social Care Minister then thanked him for acknowledging what the government is doing and said the work was ‘really important’.

Piers interrupted to say tell her that it was more important that 4,000 people have died, only for the Minister to start laughing. 

The host said: ‘Why are you laughing? What do you find funny about this?’

She said: ‘I don’t think it’s funny in the slightest.’

He responded: ‘Well why do you keep laughing then?’

‘I’m not laughing at all,’ she said.

Piers replied: ‘I literally just asked you is it true that 4,000 elderly people have died in hosp and all you can do is laugh what’s the matter with you?’

As she continued to insist she wasn’t laughing and asked Piers not to suggest she had been, he said: ‘We literally just saw you.’ 

But she said her laughter was a reaction to him showing her the front page of the newspaper, when she was unable to see him due to not having a screen visible showing the GMB host. 

Meanwhile, the NHS has been ordered to free up 30,000 beds to make room for an expected surge in coronavirus cases.

A letter sent to trusts by NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has called on hospitals to postpone all non-urgent planned operations from today until at least three months.

This will free up between 12-15,000 beds, according to the letter seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

Trusts are also being asked to discharge all inpatients, many of whom are elderly, if they are ‘medically fit to leave’.

This could free up another 15,000 beds, NHSE says.

Bulk-buying beds from independent providers and using community hospital beds could see up to 10,000 additional beds for COVID-19 patients, the letter claims.

But despite the scramble to free up hospital beds, it was revealed last night that thousands lay unused at London’s Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre.

The 4,000-capacity flagship hospital sat almost empty with just 19 coronavirus patients treated over the Easter weekend.

Data circulated to health chiefs and seen by the HSJ shows some hospitals have been able to double their ICU capacity, to 1,555 beds, despite rising levels of infections.

It also showed only 19 patients were receiving treatment over the Easter weekend at the facility located in the Docklands.

It emerged yesterday that GPs voted to stop visiting care homes just two months before the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, amid claims the elderly are being left to die.

Debbie Cholwill said her mother (pictured) passed away on April 10. On Facebook, she wrote: 'It is with deep sadness that I am putting this message on sadly after six years of my mum being in a care home with dementia she sadly passed away last night, after testing positive for Coronavirus'

Debbie Cholwill said her mother (pictured) passed away on April 10. On Facebook, she wrote: 'It is with deep sadness that I am putting this message on sadly after six years of my mum being in a care home with dementia she sadly passed away last night, after testing positive for Coronavirus'

Debbie Cholwill said her mother (pictured) passed away on April 10. On Facebook, she wrote: ‘It is with deep sadness that I am putting this message on sadly after six years of my mum being in a care home with dementia she sadly passed away last night, after testing positive for Coronavirus’

Something funny, Care Minister? Moment grinning MP Helen Whately LAUGHS as Piers Morgan confronts her over 4,000 coronavirus care home deaths

Care minister Helen Whately was blasted today for sniggering in a car crash TV interview as it was revealed a ‘hidden epidemic’ of coronavirus in nursing and old-people’s homes may have cost 4,000 lives.

She was taken to task by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain as he grilled her over an exclusive report in the Daily Mail that deaths in care facilities are being hugely under-reported because of a lack of testing.  

Mrs Whately, 43, the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, was sent out to face the media this morning as anger and questions increased over the vulnerability of care home residents amid a lack of testing and personal protective equipment  (PPE) for staff. 

Appearing on GMB she insisted that the Government has been working hard to tackle the crisis, but Piers insisted she answer questions about deaths in care homes, telling her he expected her to be working hard.

He asked: ‘Is it true that 4,000 people have died in care home? Yes or no?’ 

Home visits have been a cornerstone of general practice for decades – and 10,000 are carried out across England each day.

But in November regional health bosses voted 54 per cent in favour of scrapping a rule in GP contracts which say they must take call-outs when a patient is too ill to make it to hospital.

The controversial move was proposed because visiting the elderly took used valuable time – but campaigners said the decision would be disastrous for the housebound, vulnerable, elderly and dying.  

Now, as the coronavirus sweeps across residential care homes, GPs have been labelled ‘ageist’ for reducing their visits. 

Despite the vote to scrap home visits, NHS England guidance due to come in September 2020 will require GPs to visit care homes at least every fortnight. 

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said that family doctors would keep face-to-face visits to a ‘minimum’ – including to care homes, saying it would keep residents and staff safe.

The British Medical Association – the UK’s largest union for doctors – argued that healthcare workers remain ‘absolutely committed to their patients’. 

But Liz Kendall, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Care, argued there should be no changes to how the elderly are treated despite the pandemic.

She said: ‘It’s vital that people in care homes continue to receive the same standard of medical attention and care that they would before this pandemic, and that includes being transferred to hospital if they need to be there.’ 

Sir David Behan, non-executive chairman of HC-One, revealed 311 residents and one member of staff have died in its homes as a result of suspected COVID-19. 

Elaine Shirt had to put her 'lovely' father Cyril Lawrence, 99, into respite in a care home after her mother was taken ill recently and went into hospital. Pictured, Mr Lawrence (front row, third from left) with Stan Mortensen (front row, sixth from left) at Blackpool in 1939

Elaine Shirt had to put her 'lovely' father Cyril Lawrence, 99, into respite in a care home after her mother was taken ill recently and went into hospital. Pictured, Mr Lawrence (front row, third from left) with Stan Mortensen (front row, sixth from left) at Blackpool in 1939

Elaine Shirt had to put her ‘lovely’ father Cyril Lawrence, 99, into respite in a care home after her mother was taken ill recently and went into hospital. Pictured, Mr Lawrence (front row, third from left) with Stan Mortensen (front row, sixth from left) at Blackpool in 1939

BOSS OF UK’S LARGEST CARE HOME CLAIMS TWO-THIRDS OF HOMES HAVE HAD CORONAVIRUS  

Sir David Behan, non-executive chairman of HC-One, revealed 311 residents and one member of staff have died in its homes as a result of suspected COVID-19. 

And he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that 2,400 cases of either suspected or confirmed coronavirus have been recorded in 232 of its 330 homes. He also agreed the two-thirds figure was a more ‘realistic picture’ for the true size of the crisis across the UK. 

Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Sir David – a former chair of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – said: ‘This terrible virus does target older people and people with underlying conditions.

‘What that means is some of the frailest elderly people we’ve got in our society are in care homes and therefore those people are at increased risk.’

He added that HC-One, which operates 330 care homes in Britain, had 2,407 cases of suspected or confirmed coronavirus. 

Sir David said: ‘There have been 311 residents who have died as a result of suspected COVID-19. Over the weekend we’ve lost one member of staff.

‘COVID-19 deaths are representative of just about a third of all deaths we’ve had over the last three weeks.’

Britain’s known care home death toll is now at least 275, but industry experts warned the true figure is likely to already be in the thousands. 

And he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that 2,400 cases of either suspected or confirmed coronavirus have been recorded in 232 of its 330 homes. 

He also agreed the two-thirds figure was a more ‘realistic picture’ for the true size of the crisis across the UK. 

Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Sir David – a former chair of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – said: ‘This terrible virus does target older people and people with underlying conditions.

‘What that means is some of the frailest elderly people we’ve got in our society are in care homes and therefore those people are at increased risk.’

He added that HC-One, which operates 330 care homes in Britain, had 2,407 cases of suspected or confirmed coronavirus. 

Older people are known to be more likely to die if they catch COVID-19 – more than half of the UK’s 10,261 deaths recorded by the NHS have been among people over 80. Almost all victims (92 per cent) have been older than 60.

Sir David said: ‘There have been 311 residents who have died as a result of suspected COVID-19. Over the weekend we’ve lost one member of staff.

‘COVID-19 deaths are representative of just about a third of all deaths we’ve had over the last three weeks.’

Britain’s known care home death toll is now at least 275, but industry experts warned the true figure is likely to already be in the thousands. 

Data from Italy, Spain and France shows between 42 and 57 per cent of all coronavirus deaths have been in care homes – combined, those countries have had more than 53,000 fatalities.

London School of Economics researchers found the most robust evidence was from Ireland, where 54 per cent of fatalities have occurred in homes.

One expert said the findings ‘clearly show the lack of focus on the elderly’ and said that Britain’s most vulnerable deserve better than to be ‘ignored and forgotten’.

Last week Professor Whitty said that just over nine per cent of care homes had cases of COVID-19.  

At the Downing Street briefing last night, he revealed the figure had jumped to around 13.5 per cent – statistically a jump of 50 per cent in a week.

Revealing the scale of Britain’s crisis, he added there have been COVID-19 outbreaks in 92 care homes in the last 24 hours. There are 17,000 homes in England.  

Heartbreaking reports from the front line: Amid fears the number of coronavirus deaths in care homes is much higher than official statistics suggest, relatives of four victims reveal the agony of their loss

by Daniel Martin, Policy Editor for the Daily Mail 

Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze ‘lost her life doing the job she loved’, a friend said yesterday.

The 44-year-old self-isolated after showing symptoms of coronavirus but had to be taken to hospital and put on a ventilator as her condition deteriorated.

The married mother-of-two, pictured, died earlier this month at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

Her husband Kenneth, 45, said she had understood the risks of continuing her job after the coronavirus outbreak began but had wanted to carry on working.

Mrs Sazuze, who was originally from Malawi in Africa, trained and worked at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton before starting work at a care home in Cannock, Staffordshire.

Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze ‘lost her life doing the job she loved’, a friend said yesterday

Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze ‘lost her life doing the job she loved’, a friend said yesterday

Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze ‘lost her life doing the job she loved’, a friend said yesterday

Mr Sazuze, who is training to be a nurse, said he was not allowed to see his wife of 24 years after she was admitted to hospital. 

But she called him just before she was put on the ventilator. ‘She started telling me, ‘Ken, if I don’t come back, be strong, I love you, be strong for the kids’,’ he told the BBC.

‘I was like, ‘no, no, no, don’t tell me that. I don’t want you to start telling me that in a negative way… we will be all right.’

‘She said, ‘I’m just telling you in case’.’

She understood the risks of working on the front line but was happy to help people, he added.

Family friend William Fungatira said: ‘Elsie was a naturally quiet person but very caring, friendly, cheerful and resilient.

‘She had a passion to always help others. She was dedicated to helping people. It’s a great loss to all of us who knew her and, indeed, to the wider community because she lost her life doing the job she loved.’

 It’s been a harrowing and lonely battle with no help

The manager of three care homes where 11 residents have died from Covid-19 has said she is fighting a ‘harrowing and lonely’ battle against the virus.

Nicola Richards, 46, pictured right, who runs Palms Row Healthcare, said she has been ‘pulled apart’ by the illness, which is tearing through her facilities.

A quarter of the Sheffield homes’ 200 residents are infected, 30 staff have also tested positive and one nurse is in intensive care.

‘It’s another one and another one and another one’, she said. ‘I’m not getting to sleep. I’ve not switched off. I can’t describe the stress.’

Nicola Richards, 46, who runs Palms Row Healthcare, said she has been ‘pulled apart’ by the illness, which is tearing through her facilities

Nicola Richards, 46, who runs Palms Row Healthcare, said she has been ‘pulled apart’ by the illness, which is tearing through her facilities

Nicola Richards, 46, who runs Palms Row Healthcare, said she has been ‘pulled apart’ by the illness, which is tearing through her facilities

Mrs Richards said the mental health of her residents is deteriorating because they have to be kept in their rooms and can’t receive visitors.

‘How do you explain to elderly residents that their wife or daughter isn’t coming to see them today? I have residents crying because they can’t see their loved ones.

‘If we’ve got residents who are dying we’ve been told people can’t come and see them – only one visitor is allowed. It is soul-destroying.

‘They’re at the end of life and seeing workers in masks – it’s just so clinical.’

The mother-of-two added: ‘I’m trying to keep staff morale but it’s really tough …a lonely journey. I feel like I’ve had no support from the authorities. We have only had one PPE delivery. The lack of awareness has been something else.

‘Our elderly have been forgotten. It’s like we’re the bottom of the pecking order. I’ve got to hope lessons are learnt. It’s just been so dark.’

 Staff had begged the public to give masks

An 86-year-old great-grandfather died at a care home where managers had reported a shortage of face masks.

Reg Amison passed away at the Bradwell Hall nursing home last month, after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Days earlier the home in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, had appealed for donations of face masks from the public because its stocks were low and suppliers were unable to confirm delivery dates.

At least one member of staff has tested positive for the coronavirus and several others have gone into self-isolation.

Reg Amison passed away at the Bradwell Hall nursing home last month, after testing positive for the coronavirus

Reg Amison passed away at the Bradwell Hall nursing home last month, after testing positive for the coronavirus

Reg Amison passed away at the Bradwell Hall nursing home last month, after testing positive for the coronavirus

Mr Amison’s son Robert, 58, called on the Government to improve access to protective equipment and virus testing for care home workers.

He told the Daily Mail: ‘The staff had almost no equipment to stop the disease spreading.

‘I’m not blaming the home, they looked after my dad really, really well. But the Government should be ramping up testing, and frontline nurses and carers should get tested first.’

Mr Amison said it was ‘heart-breaking’ that he and his mother Dorothy, 83, (pictured with Reg) had not been able to visit his father before his death.

He said: ‘It’s one of the hardest things, to be told your dad is dying but you can’t go and sit with him and hold his hand. It broke our hearts not to be there.’

Bradwell Hall confirmed that one staff member had tested positive for the illness and was recovering at home, and others are self-isolating.

Residents who showed symptoms of Covid-19 were being kept isolated in their rooms and ‘barrier-nursed’ in line with national guidance, meaning staff must wear protective equipment, the home said.

Therapist died in hospital where she used to work

Retired NHS carer Dianne Harvey died in the hospital where she used to work, her family said.

Mrs Harvey, 77, lived in the same care home as Reg Amison, and her family suspect that both of the pensioners caught coronavirus there.

Mrs Harvey, pictured with her late husband Peter, was a retired NHS occupational therapist and had lived in Bradwell Hall for four years after she developed dementia.

Mrs Harvey, pictured with her late husband Peter, was a retired NHS occupational therapist and had lived in Bradwell Hall for four years after she developed dementia

Mrs Harvey, pictured with her late husband Peter, was a retired NHS occupational therapist and had lived in Bradwell Hall for four years after she developed dementia

Mrs Harvey, pictured with her late husband Peter, was a retired NHS occupational therapist and had lived in Bradwell Hall for four years after she developed dementia

The former Sunday School teacher and Scout leader was taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital in Staffordshire after she became seriously ill with coronavirus. She failed to recover and died there.

Mrs Harvey had two sons, Paul and Roger, with her husband who was an ambulance driver.

Paul, 51, said: ‘She loved to help out in the local community every way she could.’

He added: ‘She was so selfless – always putting others above herself.’ 

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