A report in The Guardian has revealed that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is refusing to state which care homes or providers had the highest number of fatalities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The CQC says that the supply of beds and standards of care could be at risk if customers left operators who reported a high number of deaths.
Although the CQC shares data on individual care homes with the government it refuses to share it with the public.
Highest death toll in England
Provider HC-One, owner of Aspen Court where 21 or more elderly residents died, also owns Melbury Court in Durham which has the highest currently confirmed death toll of 26.
According to The Guardian report HC-One, the UK’s largest private provider, recorded more than 1,000 deaths in total across its 300+ care homes.
Four Seasons Health Care recorded 567 Covid deaths, and Care UK, which operates 123 homes, recorded 642 deaths. Bupa reported 266 confirmed cases but has not revealed suspected deaths.
As EEE mentioned in our original story on the deaths at Aspen Court reliable data concerning the number of cases of Covid-19 and deaths is very hard to come by, and the attitude of the CQC is one reason for this.
Freedom of Information request refused
During our initial investigation into Aspen Court one of our first tasks was to submit a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the CQC on 02 July 2020 asking:
“How many residents of Aspen Court Care Home, Dod Street, Tower Hamlets have died from Covid-19 during the 2020 pandemic, in particular the first two months?”
The CQC replied that while it did have the information we asked for “At present we consider the information that you are requesting to be exempt from disclosure under FOIA.”
The refusal also included, in part, the following: “We are also mindful that this [disclosure] may result in significant impact upon providers who are already facing serious financial pressures. Publication of the data is likely to cause further disruption to the sector with the result of reducing the overall availability and choice of care services. These commercial risks may act as a disincentive for providers to properly notify CQC that deaths are suspected to be COVID-19 related, and so to impact upon the completeness and accuracy of official statistics and the action CQC takes to address concerns and risks.”
This is inline with the FoI responses that The Guardian received.
Aspen Court – Appeal for Witnesses
EEE still needs to contact more witnesses to the events at Aspen Court during the pandemic.
You might be one of the many families who lost a parent to coronavirus at Aspen Court.
You might be someone who worked at Aspen Court during that time.
The attitude of the CQC, putting commercial interests before the welfare of patients and their families, reinforces the need for communities to conduct their own investigations.
But this can only be done with your help. All we do is join up the dots. As with all our sources who make our investigative work possible your confidentiality is 100% guaranteed so if you know something please contact EEE at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coronavirus is not going away anytime soon – even when a vaccine is available. Residents have the right to know the exact number of cases and fatalities at each individual care home to make informed decisions.
Related Internet Links
- Relatives & Residents Association
- Data on Covid care home deaths kept secret ‘to protect commercial interests’– Guardian
- Fuller care homes with fewer staff had more Covid cases, study finds – Guardian
- Covid-19 outbreaks up to 20 times more likely in large care homes, study finds – Guardian
- Care Quality Commission