Responding to data published today by the Office for National Statistics that show nearly 20,000 care home residents have died from coronavirus, UNISON senior national officer Gavin Edwards said:

“This appalling death toll is yet more evidence care was left high and dry when the pandemic hit.

“Many elderly residents were at the mercy of the virus and low-paid care staff were poorly protected.

“The best run homes pay employees full wages to workers off sick. In others, ill staff are effectively forced into turning up for work because they can’t survive with no money coming in.

“If ever there was a time for urgent and comprehensive reform of the care sector it’s now.”

A total of 19,394 deaths that occurred between March 2 and June 12 had Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate,whether as an underlying cause or not, accounting for a fifth of all deaths of care home residents this year.

The virus was the leading cause of deaths among male care home residents in England and Wales across this period – accounting for a third of all deaths.

In a study of more than 9,000 care homes in the country, the ONS found 56 per cent had reported at least one case of Covid-19 since March.Of the care homes with infections, 20 per cent of residents and 7 per cent of staff are estimated to have tested positive for Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the reports of care home managers.

The ONS also revealed that the first death of a care home resident involving coronavirus took place on March 6


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