Finally the statistics tell the story of coronavirus care home deaths

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Finally, the statistics tell the story - one which we have been reporting for weeks, but with very little data to draw on.

A total of 3,000 people had died in care homes in England and Wales with Covid-19 by mid-April.

Looking at the trend and taking in the other home nations, ITV News is able to estimate that the total UK death toll is now more than 6,000.

And the number is rising.

While hospital deaths are thankfully coming down, care home deaths continue to increase.

As we have been highlighting on ITV News, the peak is yet to pass. But care homes are no longer the forgotten frontline - nobody can ignore these numbers.

And yet for weeks the data didn’t even exist.

Since the start of this pandemic, carers have been telling us that something awful was sweeping through the sector.

Homes which would normally have two or three deaths a year were seeing six or seven in just a few weeks. And still those lives were not being counted.

Today’s data finally provides a terrible tally, taking into account deaths measured by ONS and more recent deaths measured by the CQC.

Both now suggest that the most acute crisis is in care.

One care home in Peterborough has left out empty chairs for the residents that have died in the pandemic.

This morning we spoke to Laura.

She only started her job as a carer eighteen months ago. Young, softly-spoken, gentle, she’s spent the past few weeks reading final words from families to dying residents in the home.

In total, she’s lost seven.

Peggy was her favourite - she died a day after Laura went home, having spent days sleeping on a mattress on the care home floor, tending to the sick.

Laura cries not for herself, but for the relatives who never got to say goodbye in person.

  • 'We're just trying to be strong for the residents we've got left' says care home worker Laura

What makes those tears even more tragic, is that perhaps they needn’t have been shed at all. Carers were left without PPE, without testing and without training for this pandemic.

The virus was left to spread beyond their control.

In the initial weeks, all resources were diverted to the NHS. No carer we’ve spoken to argues with prioritising the health service, but time and time again they’ve told us that they feel like second class citizens.

And it is difficult to deny that this is how we treat them.

Minimum wage, maximum risk - caring for others, with very little care in return. Unlike doctors and nurses, they don’t even get full statutory sick pay if they catch Covid-19.

So, yes, behind every number today is a grieving family or friend. Too much pain to even imagine. But think too of the carers like Laura, whose tears tell a tale of their own.

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