More than 600 people in Suffolk's care homes died with coronavirus, new figures reveal
More than 600 deaths in Suffolk's care homes have been linked to coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak.
New data has been released by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) showing death notifications involving Covid-19 received from individual care homes between April 10, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
In care homes across the county some 604 people lost their lives from either confirmed or suspected coronavirus.
Waterfield House in Hadleigh's Greys Close, recorded the most deaths of any care home in Suffolk, with 20 in total.
Hadleigh Nursing Home,just off the town's Coram Street, recorded the second worst, with 18 residents loosing their lived with a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus.
Prince George House, in Ipswich's Mansbrook Boulevard and Beccles's Dell House Care Home recorded 17 deaths each.
Wickham House, in Woodbridge, recorded 16 deaths in relation to the virus since the beginning of the outbreak, Alice Grange in Ipswich recorded 15, and Handford House in Ipswich and Glastonbury Court in Bury St Edmunds recorded 14 deaths each.
The CQC said the impact of the pandemic on people who draw on and work in adult social care services has been devastating, and added: "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."
The watchdog said it is was important to note that death notifications do not in themselves indicate poor quality care, but consideration has to be given to 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.
And many notifications related to the deaths of care home residents which occurred in other care settings.
For example, a resident may have been admitted from a care home to hospital with a fracture, contracted Covid-19 while in hospital, and subsequently died without returning to the care home.
The inclusion of a death in the published figures as being involved with Covid-19 is based on the statement of the care home provider, which may or may not correspond to a medical diagnosis or test result or be reflected in the death certification.
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."
Earlier this year Matt Hancock, the MP for West Suffolk and the former health secretary, came under sustained pressure from the social care industry over the decision to discharge people from hospital into care homes at the start of the pandemic without a coronavirus test.
At the time he said it was not possible to test everyone being sent from hospitals into care homes when coronavirus emerged because the capacity was not available.
He also said there were fears a test could "return a false negative and therefore give false assurance that that person did not have the disease".
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "Every death from coronavirus is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies are with everyone who has lost loved ones.
"Throughout the pandemic we have done all we can to protect vulnerable people in adult social care. We have provided billions of pounds to support the sector including on infection and prevention control measures, free PPE, priority vaccinations and additional testing. As a result, 93 per cent of residents and over 75 per cent of eligible staff in care home settings have had two vaccine doses.
“As the data shows, the number of care home resident deaths as a percentage of all COVID-19 deaths in England is comparable with or lower than a number of European countries."