Coronavirus claims lives of 15 care home residents in Bristol

April 22 2020
Coronavirus claims lives of 15 care home residents in Bristol

FIFTEEN people died of COVID-19 in Bristol care homes in the weeks leading up to Easter, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

The figures, released for the first time as part of the ONS’s weekly national analysis of deaths registered in England and Wales, cast light on the situation in places where there is currently no daily reporting of coronavirus infection or death rates.

They relate to deaths which happened on or before April 10 and were registered up to April 18, and show that a total of 54 deaths of Bristol residents had been registered with COVID-19 recorded as the cause of death. Of these, 15 were at care homes, 35 were in hospital, two at hospices and two at home.

In South Gloucestershire, 33 residents’ deaths were in hospital, 14 were in care homes and two were at home – a total of 49.

The ONS figures show that the first deaths mentioning COVID-19 in both Bristol and South Gloucestershire happened in the week ending on March 27, three of them involving South Gloucestershire residents – all in hospital – and nine involving Bristol residents, eight in hospital and one in a care home.

The following week, ending on April 3, 16 South Gloucestershire residents died with COVID-19: 13 in hospital, 2 in care homes and one at home. Fifteen Bristol residents died with COVID-19: nine in hospital, four in care homes, one in a hospice and one at home.

In the week ending April 10, the number rose to 30 Bristol residents: 10 of them in care homes, 18 in hospital, one at home and one in a hospice. During the same week 30 South Gloucestershire residents also died with COVID-19: 17 in hospital, 12 in care homes and one at home.

The 49 COVID-19 deaths in those three weeks represent about 20% of the 249 deaths in South Gloucestershire over the same period, while the 54 registered in Bristol represented around 18% of the city’s total of 305.

While NHS England provides daily updates on the number of people who have died in hospitals after testing positive for COVID-19, and the government also publishes daily updates on the number of confirmed cases, there has been criticism from people working within the care profession that no daily figures for deaths involving COVID-19 at care homes have been published.

The Care Quality Commission, which recently added a COVID-19 notification to its care home death reporting form, which managers are required to fill out as soon as a death occurs on their premises, has been accused of “dragging its heels” on setting up a system of providing data.

And an example experienced by the Voice shows the reluctance among both public bodies and many care home operators to provide any information on COVID-19 cases, which has made it difficult for the scale of the crisis to be reported.

The Voice was told that several residents of one South Gloucestershire care home had died after contracting COVID-19 and asked the charity running the home to confirm whether this was true.

After two days the charity responded, refusing to confirm or deny whether any residents had died.

The Voice also approached NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and Public Health England for confirmation on whether a cluster of cases had been reported.

NHS England did not respond, the CQC referred the Voice to an announcement it had made on testing care home staff and Public Health England has asked South Gloucestershire Council to respond on its behalf.