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Invoking the wartime spirit, dispensing with the wartime generation


DATA from Care England, which represents the care home sector, suggests that as many as 7,500 care home residents have died of suspected coronavirus. 

This is more than five times its own estimate earlier this week, and far higher than the figure from the Office for National Statistics, which recorded just 217 care home deaths from the virus until April 3, the most recent date for which official numbers are available.

Care England, which represents around 3,800 care homes with more than 50,000 residents, collated the information from its own homes.

In addition, new Care Quality Commission figures show that up to and including last Wednesday there were outbreaks in 3,084 care homes in England; in contrast, at Thursday’s Downing Street briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that ‘only 15 per cent of care homes had experienced outbreaks of Covid-19’.

Earlier this week, the Government was accused of misleading the public about the scale of the pandemic because it failed to include care home death rates in its daily briefings. Healthcare workers have warned that deaths have been substantially underestimated in official announcements. They claimed not to have seen any of the £1.6 billion that Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged would be set aside for social care.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK, commenting on Care England’s death estimates, emphasised the urgent need for personal protective equipment and testing in care homes. She said: ‘As we have feared for some time, what’s going on in care homes, not only here but in many other countries too, is a tragedy in the making.’ In response, a spokesman from the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘Every death from this virus is a tragedy and that is why we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this global pandemic. It is important that we have the best possible reliable data to know how many deaths there are, wherever they occur. In an important step forward, the ONS are now providing a breakdown of deaths by place of occurrence.’

However, care home deaths were not included in the total anyway; conveniently, not having ‘the best possible reliable data’ has allowed the Government to create the impression of a much smaller death toll from the virus. Did they really think that the true figure would never emerge?  

It is becoming clear that those most at risk in this pandemic, and those who care for them, have been receiving the least protection – truly a ‘tragedy in the making’, as predicted on TCWbut also a national scandal in the making.

Meanwhile, 99-year-old Second World War veteran Captain Tom Moore has raised over £20million for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden. It seems that in our current crisis, this indomitable generation is doing more for the NHS than the NHS is doing for them. Every death may be a tragedy, but some are more tragic than others.

Many have invoked the wartime spirit as essential to get the nation through this deadly health emergency, but it seems that the deadly health emergency has provided the nation with the excuse to dispense with the wartime generation.

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Ann Farmer
Ann Farmer
Ann Farmer is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Movement (Catholic University of America, 2008).

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