Questions for written answer House of Lords – Thursday May 14 2020
Lord Alton of Liverpool to ask Her Majesty’s Government
what assessment they have made of reports that care home operators have complained that COVID-19 testing in care homes has been a “complete system failure”; what steps they are taking in response to such reports; what assessment they have made of reports that Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health and Social Care have stated that each are not responsible for the testing programme and referred care home operators to another of those organisations; and what plans they have to clarify (1) the operation of, and (2) who has responsibility for, the testing programme.
how many (1) residents, and (2) workers, in care homes have been offered COVID-19 tests; how many have been carried out; and what estimate they have made of the time it will take for all residents and employees in care homes to be offered tests.
what assessment they have made of the reported complaint made by the chairman of the trustees of the Fairfield Residential Home in Oxford, that COVID-19 testing swabs were not delivered and that symptomatic carers who are self-isolating have to make an 120 mile journey in order to be tested.
whether (1) Public Health England, (2) the Care Quality Commission, or (3) the Department of Health and Social Care, has had responsibility for carrying out COVID-19 tests in care homes; who is currently responsible for such testing; and what steps they are taking to ensure clarity about such testing for care home operators.
Meanwhile, reports suggest that more than twice the official number of deaths in care homes may have occurred – some 22,000 people.
Parliament was told that 10,000 “unexplained” deaths occurred in care homes last month. There were 18,000 more deaths in April than the average for that month, but only 8,000 were recorded as coronavirus-related.
Academics at the London School of Economics found that data on deaths in care homes directly attributed to the virus published by the Office for National Statistics significantly underestimated the impact of the pandemic on care home residents and accounted for only about four out of 10 of the excess deaths in care settings recorded in recent weeks.
The shocking and increasing death toll was reported as it emerged that England’s social care directors warned Government – two years ago – that care homes would be extremely vulnerable in a pandemic.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said it carried in a series of detailed reports, sent to the Government two years ago, they called for better supply plans for personal protective equipment – warning that “demand for PPE could rapidly outstrip supply” – and said that there needed to be improved infection control and a system to enlist volunteers to help services expected to be stretched to breaking point.