11 more die with coronavirus at Suffolk’s care homes
PUBLISHED: 17:29 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:35 03 June 2020
The death toll from coronavirus at Suffolk’s care homes remains in double figures this week – but new deaths are at their lowest level since the beginning of April, figures reveal.
Eleven new deaths were reported in care homes in the week to May 29, according to data from regulator the Care Quality Commission.
It estimates there have been 163 deaths in total at Suffolk’s care homes – which is more than a third (34%) of the 483 total Covid-19 related deaths recorded in the county.
As of this afternoon, Suffolk County Council (SCC) said it knew of 203 suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases in care homes and 53 affected providers.
MORE: How the coronavirus crisis unfolded in Suffolk’s care homes
David Finch, from the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, said he is pleased to see care homes appear to be past their peak, and that the number of deaths is continuing to fall.
But he added: “There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure we do not see any increases.
“We need to ensure the Government support the care sector with everything it needs.”
Helen Armitage, SCC’s Labour group spokeswoman for health, said it is a “tragedy” that at least 163 people have now died, and called for a quick move towards whole care home testing.
SCC’s adult social care team said a system had been in place since mid-May where all care home staff and residents would be offered testing if one person displayed symptoms and tested positive.
MORE: Is full testing of staff and residents being offered to Suffolk care homes?
But Ms Armitage said: “As lockdown restrictions are now being lifted, it is vital SCC learns from the first devastating wave of coronavirus and starts to effectively shield our care homes, especially as we consider the prospect of potential localised outbreaks and a likely return of the virus.
“In the short term this means adopting, as soon as possible, a testing response where all staff and residents are tested once a single person displays symptoms.
“We must then move quickly to a whole care home testing system which regularly tests staff and residents, regardless of whether symptoms are displayed.”
It comes as an investigation by this newspaper looked into why deaths and cases in Suffolk’s care homes have been consistently higher than neighbouring counties.
It was revealed that nearly 200 beds in the county’s care homes were ‘block purchased’ for hospital patients to move into from March 17.
However, until April 15, those discharged into care homes were not being routinely tested for coronavirus, prompting fears this contributed to its spread. Other pressing issues included national problems with PPE supply and testing.
Beccy Hopfensperger, SCC’s adult social care boss, said Suffolk has a higher proportion of nursing beds, which has led to a greater percentage of Covid-19 deaths.
She added: “While we are seeing a decrease in the number of cases, providers are still fighting this pandemic.
“I would like to reassure people that SCC and our health partners are standing with care providers as they continue to care for residents with the utmost professionalism and kindness.”
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