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Coronavirus: Care homes mentioned only twice in five months of Sage minutes

The government’s top scientific advisers discussed care homes only twice between January and May, according to newly published minutes.

Records for meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, or Sage, which is the key group of experts advising ministers on how to react to the COCID-19 outbreak, reveal a lack of discussion about the risks facing care homes.

Between January and May, Sage minutes mention care homes only twice, before the start of lockdown in the UK and weeks before the numbers of deaths made headlines across the country.

Shadow care minister Liz Kendall said she was concerned not enough action had been taken and added: “It is clear that social care and the NHS were not treated equally, nor as two sides of the same coin.”

James Bullion, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services said the publication of the minutes "appears to reinforce the impression that social care has been an afterthought – a secondary consideration after the NHS. This cannot continue."

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Source: The Independent, 1 June 2020

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Increase in learning disability deaths during the coronavirus outbreak

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have looked at how the number of people who have died during the coronavirus outbreak this year compares to the number of people who died at the same time last year.

They looked at information about services that support people with a learning disability or autism in the 5 weeks between 10 April to 15 May in 2019 and 2020. These services can support around 30,000 people. They found that in that 5 weeks this year, 386 people with a learning disability, who may also be autistic, died. Data for the same 5 weeks last year found that 165 people with a learning disability, who may also be autistic, died. This information shows that well over twice as many people in these services died this year compared to last year. This is a 134% increase in the number of death notifications this year.

This new data should be considered when decisions are being made about the prioritisation of testing at a national and local level.

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said: "Every death in today's figures represents an individual tragedy for those who have lost a loved one."

"While we know this data has its limitations what it does show is a significant increase in deaths of people with a learning disability as a result of COVID-19. We already know that people with a learning disability are at an increased risk of respiratory illnesses, meaning that access to testing could be key to reducing infection and saving lives."

"These figures also show that the impact on this group of people is being felt at a younger age range than in the wider population – something that should be considered in decisions on testing of people of working age with a learning disability."

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Source: Care Quality Commission, 2 June 2020

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