Evening summary: The care home crisis

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson got both barrels from Labour leader Keir Starmer on care homes earlier today, and the government is still struggling to get a grip on the spread of the virus among care home residents.

Care homes currently account for 40 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths in the UK – in Scotland, the proportion is 57 per cent, new figures showed today. And yet experts believe the death toll is still being underestimated. 

Academics at the London School of Economics say the care home death toll could be as high as 22,000, more than double the government’s official count. The majority of the “excess deaths” in care homes, which are additional deaths compared to what is expected for this time of year, have not been attributed to Covid-19, leaving thousands officially “unexplained”. Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said this afternoon that it was “very likely” some of those people died with Covid-19, but hadn't been tested.

To support the sector, the government announced £600m to help care homes better control infections. The money will also help reduce the rotation of staff between residences, allowing care homes without epidemics to protect themselves, the government said.

In other news, unions urged ministers to delay the opening of primary schools, set for 1 June; new data from Scotland highlighted the gulf in death rates between the richest and poorest areas; and the European Union published guidance for member states to help them open their borders for the summer holidays.

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