CONCERNS have been raised over the number of Covid-19 related deaths in care homes.

The news comes as data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that between January 1, 2020 and April 10 there have been 17 deaths in Hampshire care homes as a result of coronavirus.

The numbers refer to both private and council-run care homes. Meanwhile, Hampshire County Council did not confirm any figure saying that testing for care home residents “has not been routinely available” and it would be “inappropriate to speculate”. The government has committed to testing care homes’ staff and residents.

Trade union Unison, claims that according to the ONS data there have been 170 Covid-19 related deaths in care homes across the South East between January 2020 and April 10.

Steve Torrance, Unison South East regional secretary, blamed the government and said that urgent action is needed to prevent more deaths.

He added: “Staff working in care home have been massively let down. The ongoing lack of protective kit has left many terrified they’ll spread this deadly virus or become infected themselves. There’s still widespread confusion among workers and their employers over what equipment they should have. The government has got to get its act together if we are to prevent more lives being needlessly lost.”

The county council said staff working in council-run care homes have been provided with PPE which meets national guidance.

The authority added: “Testing for care home residents has not been routinely available. This means that while a number of residents, some of whom have recovered, some of whom have sadly passed away, have displayed Covid-19 symptoms, we are not able to confirm that they have actually had the virus.”

The council said in a typical year about 25 care home residents die each month. But it added: “In March this year, some 30 of our residents passed away. The figures for April are not yet available, but we are anticipating a fairly substantial increase. Again, it will not be possible to confirm definitively that the increase is as a result of Covid-19, as confirmation testing has not been made available.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the ONS, PHE and the CQC to better understand the worrying number of deaths from Covid-19 in care homes and how we can prevent them. We have already delivered 29 million pieces of PPE to care settings across the country, including 11.4m facemasks, 13.3m aprons and 4.2m gloves. We have also committed to ensuring that all care workers who need a test receive one, and all symptomatic residents in a care home will be tested to prevent outbreaks.’’