NHS BOSS Chris Hopson has said the “neglect” of the social care system could be the reason the COVID-19 death toll is so high.
Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, has said the UK “completely neglected” the social care system. He said this could be one of the reasons our Covid-19 death toll is so high.
Mr Hopson added: “We do need to recognise that the NHS has actually created 33,000 beds to treat coronavirus patients.
“We’ve created seven Nightingale Hospitals literally within the space of a fortnight.”
He continued: “I think everybody in the health and care system would recognise it has not worked so well with care homes.”
Mr Hopson also said population density might be one of the factors contributing to the death toll.
He added: “Our social care system has been completely neglected and we know that what happens in a crisis is that the crisis inevitably finds the weakest link in terms of the area that has been under invested in, that hasn’t been sorted out.”
“We need to be careful about jumping to immediate conclusions on the basis of, to be frank, incomplete evidence.”
This comes following the news that care homes in Europe have held half of the total deaths from coronavirus according to The World Health Organisation (WHO).
Elderly or medically vulnerable people have been classified as at high risk from the highly infectious virus.
Doctor Hans Kluge WHO’s regional director for Europe, described the number of aged care deaths as a “deeply concerning picture”, and called on governments to care for the elderly.
“This is an unimaginable human tragedy.
“To the many who are experiencing this loss, my thoughts are with you.
“The way that such care facilities operate, how residents receive care, is providing pathways for the virus to spread.”
Eileen Chubb, a former care worker who now runs the advocacy group Compassion in Care, has told ABC she has been inundated with calls from “frightened” staff and has warned of an “absolute catastrophe”.
She said: “What’s happening is that care homes have been told not to admit residents from the care home to a hospital if they become ill from COVID-19.
“They’re residential care homes, so they can’t treat people, so what you basically have is a policy of just letting people die.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish government has drawn up guidelines to increase coronavirus testing, including for people entering residential care.
Care homes in the Glasgow area are being told that, for new admissions from the community, COVID-19 tests should take place after they have been admitted to the home.
It says it is in compliance with official advice that a test can take place “before or on admission”, but it has provoked an angry response from care home providers.
Scottish Care, the representative body for Scotlands care homes, has said that the proposals are “wholly unacceptable.”
Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, told Sky News: “We are concerned to hear of any instances where new residents admitted to care homes have not been tested for COVID-19 before they are admitted.
“The care home sector and ministers have been clear that this should be happening, regardless of whether someone is showing symptoms or not.
“This testing is vital for individuals prior to arriving to the home to reduce the risk of virus transmission to care home staff and fellow residents.”
Dr Macaskill also referenced how new cases should be quarantined for extended periods due to the virus asymptomatic nature.
He said: “New care home admissions should also be barrier nursed and isolated for seven to 14 days as an additional precaution. Scottish Care have already called for testing to be extended and believe any local practice of not testing all new admissions is wholly unacceptable and places a sector working its hardest to keep people safe at additional and intolerable risk.”