Channel 4 News report keeps Aspen Court Covid-19 deaths in public eye

Everyone is having a rubbish Christmas in 2020 but none worse than those who have lost family members to the Covid-19 pandemic. Of particular concern to Tower Hamlets residents has been the seemingly high number of deaths at Aspen Court care home in Poplar which the Enquirer has been covering.

Last night C4 News reporter Fatima Manji presented a very good piece explaining how Amanda Henry and Kim Nottage became friends after each had suffered the death of a parent in Aspen Court and have been campaigning to find out exactly what happened.

During this time Amanda Henry and Kim Nottage have been actively supported by Cllr. Rabina Khan (Liberal Democrat, Shadwell).

Council webcast reveals issue

During the first wave of the pandemic in April there was a high incidence of deaths of residents at Aspen Court but it was not until 22 June that this became known, and even then only during a webcast of Tower Hamlets Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

At 1h 26m during the webcast Dr Naureen Bhatti, a GP at Gough Walk Surgery, talked about a local care home which normally would have 75 residents but now only had 35.

While Dr Bhatti emphasised that not all the deaths were linked to Covid-19 it was obviously a key factor in many.

Sign exterior of Aspen Court
Aspen Court

The Enquirer worked out that Aspen Court was almost certainly the care home in question and started firing off emails to the relevant individuals and organisations involved to try and find out exactly how many deaths had occurred in April and why?

Final death toll

Our Aspen Court investigative work produced little in the way of new information, but did ensure that people were made aware that the deaths had happened.

It is still difficult to say what the death toll was but officially 21 deaths have been confirmed as caused by Covid-19 with 33 deaths in total during April.

It was later revealed that Aspen Court only had three Covid-19 test kits available to them. It should be remembered that this was at a time when the health services of the UK were reeling from the first wave of the pandemic and the whole world was trying to access suitable medical equipment.

Almost 20,000 care home residents died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus between March 2 and June 12 2020 as far as is known.

Unwarranted CQC secrecy

This vagueness is primarily down to the unwarranted secrecy of the Care Quality Commission who refused to release deaths in care homes data because this might ‘result in significant impact upon providers who are already facing serious financial pressures.’

At least we now know where the loyalties of the Care Quality Commission lie, not with care home residents, patients, carers, staff or the community but with commercial companies.

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As community journalists we do exactly what it says on our tin – we work for the community.

In Tower Hamlets, which covers most of London’s East End, that means we spend a lot of time investigating allegations of political corruption.

It is an unfortunate fact that the poorest local authority in the country is still beset by the highest levels of corruption.

As Love Wapping we were instrumental in exposing the electoral corruption of Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

We hoped that would be an end to our work – no such chance!

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