Tragic Covid-19 death toll across South Tyneside care homes revealed

The tragic coronavirus death toll across South Tyneside care homes has been revealed by the nation’s care watchdog in newly published figures.
A test tube is cleaned on arrival at the new Covid-19 testing lab at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.A test tube is cleaned on arrival at the new Covid-19 testing lab at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.
A test tube is cleaned on arrival at the new Covid-19 testing lab at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.

The tragic coronavirus death toll across South Tyneside care homes has been revealed by the nation’s care watchdog in newly published figures.

The Care Quality Commission said it was publishing figures on death notifications it received from named homes for the first time in a bid to be transparent, following earlier requests to share the data.

The organisation said releasing the information earlier in the pandemic could have had a “serious impact on continuity of care” but it is doing so now as risks have changed.

More than 78,500 care home residents died in England between April 10 2020 and March 31 2021, with around 7,000 care homes registering at least one death related to coronavirus.

Deaths have decreased substantially across the country as a whole as the vaccine continues to be rolled out.

In South Tyneside, 188 care home residents died with Covid-19 during this period.

The highest number of fatalities, 111, were recorded between April 10 and June 30 last year, during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Overall, 22 individual care homes in the area reported at least one Covid-19 related death.

The data covers deaths of care home residents involving coronavirus, regardless of where the disease was contracted or where the death occurred.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents independent care homes, said the figures must not be seen as an indication of quality.

He said: “It is important that the statistics are seen in context and that the entire system learns lessons from this data.

“I would like to pay tribute to all the frontline staff who have done a heroic job and it must not be forgotten that many of them lost their lives too.”

The following care homes in South Tyneside recorded five or more deaths in the year to the end of March:

Ashlea Mews (8), Bedewell Grange (8), Cheviot Court (30), Chichester Court Care Home (18), Garden Hill Care Centre (6), Harton Grange (5), Haven Court (11), Hawthorn Court (8), Hebburn Court Nursing Home (5), Roseway House (11), Seahaven Care Home (10), St Thomas Complex (7), Sycamore Care Centre - Boldon (12), The White House Nursing Home (8), Willowdene Care Home (13) and Windsor Care Home (14)

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said care homes that have been impacted the most nationally are generally in areas with high cases in the community.

She said: “It would be easy to assume that if a care home has experienced a large volume of Covid-19 deaths that must mean it’s not very good, but this would be unfair.

“This is more a tragic accident of geography than anything else.”

The CQC said infection control inspections were carried out throughout the pandemic and the body praised the efforts of care home staff.

Kate Terroni, CQC’s chief inspector for adult social care, called for “consideration and respect” to be shown to care home residents, their families, and staff.

She said: “We are grateful for the time that families who lost their loved ones during the pandemic have spent meeting with us and the personal experiences they have shared.

“These discussions have helped us shape our thinking around the highly sensitive issue of publishing information on the numbers of death notifications involving Covid-19 received from individual care homes.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said the Government has done "all it can" to protect vulnerable people in adult social care throughout the pandemic.

“We have provided billions of pounds to support the sector, including on infection and prevention control measures, free PPE, priority vaccinations and additional testing,” she added.