One quarter of care homes in North Somerset have had cases of coronavirus


- Credit: PA

A Public Health England report has revealed the numbers after Boris Johnson described ‘awful epidemics in care homes’.

One-quarter of care homes in North Somerset have either reported or suspected cases of Covid-19, Public Health England has confirmed.

The report from Public Health England comes shortly after North Somerset Council claimed to purchase its own supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to support the region’s care workers.

In total, 25 out of the district’s 101 care homes had reported a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus up to May 3.

North Somerset has experienced a higher rate in comparison with the rest of the South West, although Public Health England said: “The data contains no indication of whether the reported outbreaks are still active.”

Councillor Mike Bell helped secure the PPE and, after doing so, said: “Our effort to directly buy and support care in this way is exemplary and a credit to our fantastic staff.

“We have sourced our own supply to help make sure we are in the best position to help protect the amazing care staff in North Somerset and the vulnerable people they serve.

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“The Government’s online ordering system needs to be fully operational as soon as possible so that councils and care providers can directly request the critical PPE they need.”

On May 10, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We must reverse rapidly the awful epidemics in care homes and in the NHS, and though the numbers are coming down sharply now, there is much more to be done.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman also said the Government is working “around the clock” to ensure the sector in England is getting the support it needs to tackle the pandemic.

“We have launched a comprehensive action plan and provided £3.2 billion to local authorities to help them deal with the impacts of the pandemic on public services, including adult social care,” they said.

Meanwhile, Nicola Richards, director of care home group Palms Row Health Care, said the sector is “on a cliff edge”, with homes across the UK facing closure as they spend an extra £38.6 million per week on Covid-19 costs.

She added: “Care homes provide a vital national service and instead of being fully resourced we are facing a tsunami which could destroy the sector.”

In addition to this, a spokesman for North Somerset Council explained: “The council took early action to support our care homes in trying to deal with Covid-19. We provided financial support, with extra payments to care providers to support staffing and PPE costs. This support, at almost £2 million so far, has helped services to manage the extreme circumstances right now.”

They added: “The council acted to secure substantial additional local PPE provision to ensure that care providers had access to emergency supplies locally if their own stocks or supplies through government were at risk of running out. We set up a local emergency supply operation seven days a week to support this work.

“Our public health and social care teams have worked with care providers to provide infection control advice and manage discharges from hospital, where that was relevant. We have also acted as a strong voice for the care sector in arguing for more funding, direct access to PPE and efficient testing through the NHS and government Covid-19 responses.”