Care home coronavirus deaths could be four times higher than official figures suggest

Speaking on ITV’s Peston, Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, raised concerns about coronavirus in care homes and said: “This will come out in a big inquiry. There will be a Chilcot-esque inquiry at the end of all this.” 

The PCS data has renewed fears among charity executives and care industry insiders that people are not seeing a full picture of the number of deaths in UK care homes. PCS collates live care-related data from more than 52,000 of the 410,000 care home residents, equating to roughly 13 per cent.

The company extrapolated the data for its own death rate in order to reach the total of 17,505, meaning its data relates to a purely statistical change in death rates compared to the seasonal average.

“Nothing gives the true picture better than the rate of change of deaths,” a leading care industry figure, who asked not to be named, said. “This is what the CQC just doesn’t get.”

It is understood that PCS offered the CQC its data last week, but it was declined because the watchdog said it already receives death notifications directly from care providers.

Jonathan Papworth, the co-founder and director of PCS, said the impact on bereaved families is “devastating”, adding: “Sadly, due to limitations in the current data sources being used by the Government, I believe we are not seeing a full picture of the number of deaths in care homes, or of the challenges being faced by the social care sector.”

Mr Papworth said the CQC data only reveals “to some extent” the situation that care homes are dealing with.

“This terrible pandemic has illustrated the urgent need for more and better data from the social care sector,” he said. “I would urge the Government to speed up its plan to introduce digital care systems into social care so that it can access real-time data to not only inform future crises but also to ensure the better daily care of vulnerable elderly people.

“There are, statistically, around 17,000 more deaths than seasonally expected. These may, if they were tested, be Covid-19 positive. We do not know this, because there is insufficient testing, but we do know that this is not typical and there is one other thing that is not typical, which is coronavirus.” 

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