Shropshire Star comment: Care homes have struggled with coronavirus threat

When the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic first became apparent, a number of key fears were raised by different countries around the world.

Care homes
Care homes

And in the UK, the main area of concern revolved around our NHS.

How would hospitals cope with a huge influx of patients? How long would it be before a healthcare system that was already stretched become completely overrun?

The answer to the last question, as it turned out, was 'never'.

Under ministerial guidance more resources were pumped into the NHS on a regional level, a move which saw new field hospitals built in a matter of days, including the Nightingale at Birmingham's NEC.

Thanks to this course of action, dire predictions that our health service would be full to capacity by early April never came to pass.

Disaster was averted.

However, it has since become clear that while the NHS has coped remarkably well, the country's care homes have not.

We now know that tragically, twice as many people have died in care homes in England, Wales and Scotland during the coronavirus crisis than would be expected in normal times, with an extra 22,000 deaths recorded over a seven week period.

While hospital admissions have plummeted, infection rates in the care sector continue to be a concern, although they too are now falling.

There has been widespread condemnation of the Government for perceived failings over testing and PPE in care homes.

This forms part of a unsavoury culture of blame which has developed in recent weeks, where all manner of so-called experts have popped up to indulge in a spot of political point scoring.

On one hand, ministers are right to say that such behaviour is counter-productive, particularly at a time when the nation continues its battle against Covid-19.

Our care homes should always have been a focus, particularly as it became clear early in the pandemic that elderly people were most at risk from the virus.

What we need to see now, is the care sector working together with the Government and its scientists to come up with sensible, effective solutions to the problems at hand.

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