Tragic toll of coronavirus in Preston care homes revealed
More than a dozen deaths linked to the coronavirus have occurred outside hospital in Preston, new figures show.
Although evidence shows Covid-19 deaths are falling nationally, experts say action came too late to prevent "avoidable loss of life" in care homes, where roughly four in 10 coronavirus-related fatalities have now been recorded.
Office for National Statistics data shows that in Preston, 76 total deaths involving Covid-19 were provisionally registered up to May 16.
Of those, 15 occurred outside hospital – including nine in care homes and five at private homes. A further death occurred in a hospice, another community establishment or elsewhere.
The figures include deaths that occurred up to May 8 which were registered up to eight days later.
It means at least three further deaths outside hospital had been registered in Preston up to May 16 than up to May 9, the data shows.
ONS figures are based on where Covid-19 is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions.
The number of people who died of the coronavirus in Preston's hospitals up to May 16 was 61, according to the ONS.
Across England and Wales, there were roughly 39,071 coronavirus-related deaths up to May 16.
The latest figures show Covid-19 deaths fell nationally by more than a third in the space of a week, with 3,930 registered in the seven days to May 8, compared to 6,035 deaths the week before – a 35 per cent decrease.
However, the proportion of coronavirus deaths taking place in care homes rose, meaning they now account for 42 per cent of all Covid-19 fatalities.
The Health Foundation said the figures suggest that "action has come too late to stem the avoidable loss of life for care home residents, and social care staff".
Chief executive Dr Jennifer Dixon said: "While no action plan could undo decades of political neglect, questions should be asked as to how many deaths could have been prevented had action been taken earlier."
Sam Monaghan, chief executive of Methodist Homes, which runs 222 care homes and schemes in the UK, said there is a "stark disconnect" between the Government's rhetoric on support for care homes and the reality.
He said: "Our fear since last week has been that with the easing of restrictions, we will see numbers of people infected in the general population increase with a knock-on effect to the vulnerability of those in the care sector."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies go out to the families who have sadly lost relatives.
"Supporting the social care sector throughout this pandemic is a priority. We are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need."