Lack of coronavirus testing in care homes is an 'unfolding horror' that could lead to tens of thousands of forgotten victims, experts warn - amid claims 'hidden epidemic' has already cost 4,000 lives

A 'hidden epidemic' of coronavirus in care homes may have cost 4,000 lives, experts warned last night. 
They believe deaths are being hugely under-reported because of a lack of testing.
GPs are also sometimes reluctant to write Covid-19 on death certificates and figures from care homes are not included in the official daily toll. 
The latest report from the Office for National Statistics says the virus killed 217 care home residents in England and Wales in the two weeks up to April 3. 
But industry figures say the true count is much higher – potentially 4,000 since the outbreak started. 
Retired NHS carer Dianne Harvey, pictured with late husband Peter, died in the hospital where she used to work, her family said. Mrs Harvey, 77, lived in the same care home as Reg Amison, and her family suspect that both of the pensioners caught coronavirus there
Retired NHS carer Dianne Harvey, pictured with late husband Peter, died in the hospital where she used to work, her family said. Mrs Harvey, 77, lived in the same care home as Reg Amison, and her family suspect that both of the pensioners caught coronavirus there
Campaigners and MPs warned yesterday of an 'unfolding horror' that could end up with tens of thousands of forgotten victims. 
Ministers face urgent calls to get a grip and get virus tests for all staff and residents with symptoms, more protection gear and a Cabinet minister to deal with the crisis. 
As it emerged that just 500 care home staff have been tested so far;  
Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night pledged action on testing and is also expected to outline a plan to address the crisis in a social care strategy. 
Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze ‘lost her life doing the job she loved’, a friend said yesterday
Care home nurse Elsie Sazuze 'lost her life doing the job she loved', a friend said yesterday
Chris Whitty on care home deaths amid coronavirus outbreaks
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Care home operators complain they are being overlooked, with desperate short - ages of testing and staff safety equipment making it extremely hard to stop the dis - ease ravaging their sites. 
It came as one care home lost a fifth of it's residents and the manager says she is fighting a losing battle against the deadly pandemic.
Anita Peet, who is in charge of Wren Hall Nursing Home has criticised health chiefs for their lack of help in fighting the virus.
Ten residents died at the weekend from the virus, and a further 15 are currently in isolation.
She told The Sun: 'We are just having deaths all the time.
'Are people dispensable? It feels as if people are not worth saving. But that is certainly not how we feel.'
Nicola Richards, 46, who runs Palms Row Healthcare, said she has been ‘pulled apart’ by the illness, which is tearing through her facilities
Nicola Richards, 46, who runs Palms Row Healthcare, said she has been 'pulled apart' by the illness, which is tearing through her facilities
'It's getting harder and harder every day. We're fighting a losing battle.
'It is awful that people are not being able to prepare for this, to spend quality time with loved ones. It is making the whole situation more challenging.' 
The care home has already paid out £9,000 for protective equipment, and getting a steady supply of PPE equipment was difficult.
She added: ''The first delivery (from the government) was 160 masks. I told them we were using 312 a day. I waited four days and got 400. The supply chain is completely useless.' 
Ministers are coming under pressure to include care home deaths in the daily figures. 
Mr Sunak and public health officials faced a string of questions over the issue at a press briefing last night. 
Organisations including the Alzheimer's Society and Care England, which represents social care organisations, believe the care home death toll is being hugely under-played by a lack of tests. 
Sir David Spiegelhalter, a Cambridge University professor, highlighted emergency laws that enable doctors to certify deaths without being present and risking infection. 
Reg Amison passed away at the Bradwell Hall nursing home last month, after testing positive for the coronavirus
Reg Amison passed away at the Bradwell Hall nursing home last month, after testing positive for the coronavirus
Official data showed the week ending April 3 was the deadliest since records began in 2005, with 16,387 fatalities recorded. A graph shows how the week compares to others since the start of 2020
Official data showed the week ending April 3 was the deadliest since records began in 2005, with 16,387 fatalities recorded. A graph shows how the week compares to others since the start of 2020
Rishi Sunak challenged about care home coronavirus deaths
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Sir David said this meant they were less inclined to record the virus as the cause of death. 
Mike Padgham, of the Independent Care Group, which represents care homes and home care providers, said he believed the virus could already have claimed the lives of at least 4,000 residents. 
He based the figure on estimates that suggest the care home death toll is equal to about a third of the total deaths in hospitals as well as on care home deaths from other countries which he said would be no different to the UK. 'These people are in a very vulnerable group, they may have underlying condi - tions and they're in close proximity so it's being spread quicker,' he said. 
'We don't think the Government are doing enough and now they've been caught out. They didn't fix the roof on social care when the sun was shining and now it's too late.' 
The Alzheimer's Society estimates there have been at least 2,500 deaths from care homes based on the latest ONS figures from yesterday. 
But this data is 11 days behind. The charity's Sally Copley said: 'It strikes us that these deaths from coronavirus are the iceberg, and the hospital figures just the tip. 
'The evidence from Europe shows more than 40 per cent of all deaths relating to coronavirus occur in care homes.' 
The Mail has compiled a figure of at least 951 care home deaths from officially confirmed fatalities by care home operators and local authorities or local media reports since the start of the outbreak. 
Martin Green of Care England said up to three quarters of care homes 'had some element' of coronavirus. 
Labour MP Peter Kyle MP said: 'We need a dedicated minister of Cabinet level who will bang their fist on the table and shout from the rafters about the horrors unfolding in our care system.'
Stanley Park care home in Stanley after thirteen residents died after displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
Stanley Park care home in Stanley after thirteen residents died after displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
Lack of coronavirus testing in care homes is an 'unfolding horror' that could lead to tens of thousands of forgotten victims, experts warn - amid claims 'hidden epidemic' has already cost 4,000 lives Lack of coronavirus testing in care homes is an 'unfolding horror' that could lead to tens of thousands of forgotten victims, experts warn - amid claims 'hidden epidemic' has already cost 4,000 lives Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 00:57 Rating: 5

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