Almost half of coronavirus deaths in Chichester and Arun happening in care homes
The percentage of coronavirus deaths occurring in care homes in West Sussex is significantly higher than the national average.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 48 per cent of the 75 coronavirus deaths in Chichester occurred in care homes and hospices – dwarfing the national average of 30.6 per cent.
Neighbours Arun (43 per cent), Horsham (45 per cent), Worthing (60 per cent), Adur (56 per cent), and Mid-Sussex (57 per cent), have also reported remarkably high proportions of care home deaths.
Only Crawley has fared better than average, with 24 per cent of its 70 deaths in homes or hospices.
Worthing’s Labour group accused West Sussex County Council of ‘neglect’ in April and leader Beccy Cooper said the figures are ‘unacceptably high’.
“It is a consequence of a sequence of failures that have seen our front line workers and some of the most vulnerable people in our society neglected and forgotten for too long,” she said.
“Care homes have been chronically underfunded for years, thanks to the Conservative policy of harsh austerity that has cut our care services to the bone.”
Dr Cooper, who is a public health consultant, said privatising care homes had left them operating on ‘shoestring budgets’ and ill-prepared for the NHS returning patients to community care to free up hospital beds.
The statistics are based on incidents where coronavirus, known as covid-19, was mentioned on the death certificate up to May 22.
A spokesman for the county council said the causes of the high numbers were ‘complex’, but that West Sussex has a larger elderly and vulnerable population than other counties.
The council will distribute £13.3million of Government funding to care homes, the spokesman said, with 75 per cent paid directly to homes at a rate of £975 per bed. The remaining quarter would be allocated based on local need.
Testing in care homes would also be ramped up, the spokesman said, focusing first on over-65s and people with dementia.
Cabinet member for adults and health, Amanda Jupp, described claims the county council had not supported care homes as ‘misleading and inaccurate’.
“The comments do not reflect the dedication of council staff – themselves key workers who, working with the NHS and Public Health England, have been working tirelessly throughout the crisis to support colleagues in the care sector and the residents they support,” she said.
“We have worked with care settings to ensure they have access to the available NHS support including infection control, testing and community health and additional GP support.
“Although the 334 care homes in West Sussex are run as private, voluntary and independent businesses, we have been able to access personal protective equipment for many of them on request within 24 hours, as well as an agreed an uplift in fees for those people funded by the county.
“We are in regular dialogue with care providers across West Sussex and they know they can always contact us for help should they need it.”
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