Senedd roundup: Official figures “understating” Coronavirus infections in care homes
Public Health Wales has confirmed 238 new cases of Coronavirus across Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 5,848. 19 further deaths have been reported taking the number of deaths to 403.
Earlier on Tuesday Health Minister Vaughan Gethin reported there have been 75 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the 1,073 care homes in Wales with another 217 suspected cases. He added 128 tests had been carried out in care homes in the past week.
Responding to a question by Welsh Conservative AM Janet Finch-Saunders, the Shadow Minister for Social Care also said that he did “not currently have information on the number of care home residents who have contracted COVID-19 and have subsequently died or on the place of death.”
Sir David Behan, a former chief executive of the Care Quality Commission, and now a non-executive director for HC-One, one of Britain’s largest care home firms, who operate 14 homes in Wales, said he thought the official figures were understating the scale of infection in the care sector.
Behan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that, by 8pm yesterday, there had been 2,447 cases of either suspected or confirmed Covid-19 within his company’s care homes. The virus was present in 232 of its homes, about two thirds of the total. He added: “Covid-19 deaths are representative of about … just under about a third of all deaths that we’ve had over the past three weeks.
So this isn’t just an issue of deaths from Covid-19 as I’ve already said, this is a very frail group of older people and we’d normally have a number of deaths taking place throughout the winter months and we’re also dealing with that as well.”
On Sunday researchers from the International Long Term Care Policy Network issued a report suggesting half of all coronavirus deaths in some European countries appear to be happening in care homes.
Extra £40 million to support adult social care in Wales
The Welsh Government has announced an extra £40m is being made available to support adult social care services during the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding will help meet the increased costs of basic PPE, food, staffing costs and ICT, which are being incurred by adult social services.
The money is allocated from the £1.1bn fund created by the government to support public services to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The £40 million will be allocated to local government through the Covid-19 local government ‘hardship fund’. Local authorities will work with adult social care providers to draw down the extra money based on the new costs that are identified.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething said: ”The Welsh Government has been working with local authorities and other partners to identify the additional resources needed to meet the extra demands on adult social care services. We will review this allocation and potentially make further money available if needed in the future.
The social care workforce is on the front line of this huge effort to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and we are committed to supporting every single person do their job.”
Former AM remains in hospital after contracting coronavirus
The former AM William Powell is now conscious and “responding to treatment” after being treated for coronavirus. He remains in intensive care, two and a half weeks after he was admitted to hospital.
A Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “He has received outstanding treatment from the NHS staff in Nevill Hall Hospital and we are incredibly grateful to them for all they have done, and continue to do, to keep us all safe and well.”
Powell was elected as the first Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for the Mid and West Wales region in the elections in May 2011. Following the election he was the Lib Dems spokesperson for Environment, Sustainable Development and Rural Affairs. He lost his Welsh seat in 2016 to UKIP’s Neil Hamilton.