|Analysis of new ONS data by John Hopkins University in the US suggests that the UK’s five-day average for Covid-19 deaths is higher than any other European country for this point in the pandemic curve. In other words, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “apparent success” has a very good case for being the worst response to Covid-19 in Europe.|
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge, believes that care home deaths and those at home are now actually higher than those in hospitals. But that’s okay, because keeping the NHS operational was the main aim of the Covid-19 response, right? Not saving as many lives as possible. Health Secretary Matt Hancock says it’s “unreasonable” to ask the government to apologise to bereaved families for its total failure to shield care homes, claiming it was a “top priority” since the start of the crisis. This doesn’t stand up for a second: if it was a top priority, why have social carers being struggling to get their hands on PPE?
And the Scottish Government has failed here as well, badly. We will get the weekly statistics from care home deaths today, but that in itself is not good enough. Given the tragedy occurring in care homes, the public have a right to daily updates of the situation. Hancock has committed to that in England, and is also now publishing Care Inspectorate figures, which are not currently published in Scotland. That’s important, because the care watchdogs are notified of suspected Covid-19 deaths which may not be written down by the GP on death certificates, which is what the weekly National Records of Scotland data is based on. A Channel 4 investigation shown last night highlighted the case of Rashielee Care Home in Glasgow, where social care workers believe there has been seven deaths in their home from Covid-19, but only two have been put on the official register as Covid-19 deaths.
“There’s absolutely no way that the data can be correct,” Jennifer Carruthers, deputy manager at the care home, said.
As this crisis broke, for weeks Rashielee Care Home couldn’t get PPE from the government, and was relying on public donations of PPE to get by.
“We shouldn’t be having to rely on donations,” Kirsty Cartin, manager at Rashielee, said at the time. “This isn’t about charity, this is about what these residents and staff in the care sector deserve.”
We have also had the farce of hospital admissions to care homes without Covid-19 tests. That is only now starting to be rectified with a testing programme (it took until 15 April for them to even decide that was necessary), but the virus has long since made its way into the place it really needed to be kept out of.
“This disaster has hit a system that was already under impossible strain due to years of underfunding,” public health experts Allyson Pollock and Louisa Harding-Edgar have said of the care home crisis in Scotland, in a damning analysis of the Scottish Government’s response to Covid-19.
In the final analysis, the most reliable figure we will have will be ‘excess mortality’; the number of people dying overall as compared to this time of the year normally. That will give us the truest picture in Scotland, the UK and internationally, because whatever is written on the death certificate, we can all count mortality. Governments will have nowhere to hide from that figure.
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