Sheffield Council urged to release emergency funding after sharp rise in coronavirus care home deaths

The boss of a Sheffield care firm is calling for ‘rapid’ support from the council after new figures revealed a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus related deaths in care homes.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 7:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 7:34 pm

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics today showed that 4,434 coronavirus care home deaths have been reported between April 10 and 24 in England and Wales, half of which were recorded in the last five days.

Nicola Richards, director of Palms Row Health Care (PRHC), voiced her distress at the figures and urged Sheffield Council to pass on an emergency 15 per cent increase in government funding to help care homes during the crisis.

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Newfield Nursing Home in Heeley is one of the sites operated by Palms Row Health Care.

She said the council’s response had “improved slightly” but claimed there are outstanding concerns around funding for care homes.

“All we have are assurances that additional costs will be met, but without guarantees we are working blind,” she said. “For five weeks we have fought outbreaks in two of our homes, we have had to deliver care and support our teams in the safest way possible with no additional funding.

“The care sector was woefully underfunded in Sheffield before Covid-19 hit. This has put further pressure on a Cinderella sector.

“Given the threat of a second spike in cases later in the year, I share the increasing concerns of the care home sector that our mid-to-long term funding is not secure and the authorities are not learning the lessons of the first wave.”

At Palms Row, which operates Newfield Nursing Home in Heeley, Northfield Nursing Home in Upperthorpe and Westbourne House Nursing Home in Grimesthorpe, 18 residents have died from Covid-19, while 60 have tested positive since the pandemic began.

The company also said that 36 staff members have tested positive, while another 31 are self-isolating.

Ms Richards added: “Locally we are now managing the situation at Palms Row Health Care properties with just one additional case reported in the past seven days. This is due to infection control measures as well as the fact that the virus hit our care homes earlier than many others.”

Last month Palms Row was criticised for continuing to move residents after the pandemic had begun.

Sheffield Council has been contacted for comment.

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