Posted: Wed 29th Apr 2020

Updated: Wed 29th Apr

Office of National Statistics set to publish data on care home COVID-19 deaths in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The Office of National Statistics has revealed Welsh Government will soon begin publishing a watchdog’s data on care home deaths from Covid-19.

Welsh Government has increasingly faced calls to reveal figures of care home deaths but rejected them, claiming releasing the numbers could potentially identify victims.

Public Health Wales has also taken the same line on care home deaths, although the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) confirmed it had already been giving statistics about reported deaths from Covid-19 to Welsh Government.

In a response to the Local Democracy Reporting Service the ONS revealed it is in talks with Welsh Government and CIW about adding the figures to it’s statistics on registered deaths.

Numbers of reported deaths from the coronavirus strain to CIW’s English equivalent, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), were included in the ONS’s latest release on Tuesday this week.

A spokeswoman from the ONS said: “The ONS, Welsh Government and Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) are currently in discussions regarding CIW providing data from care home providers to supplement ONS figures on deaths involving coronavirus (COVID-19).

“ONS use of the data will be subject to assessment of the quality of the data.

“This is in the early stages and no definitive timescale is available. We understand that Welsh Government will shortly be publishing the CIW data on a routine basis.”

CIW has failed to respond to questions over why it isn’t sharing the data with the ONS – data which would significantly improve understanding of the level of infections in Welsh care settings.

However a spokeswoman for CIW said: “We share our data with Welsh Government daily.

“We can only report on notifications we receive from providers on the deaths of people who live in care homes.

“Unless the people who have died have been tested, the provider cannot confirm if this is due to COVID-19.

“We are working with the Chief Statistician to finalise plans for publication of regular data on the care home sector in Wales in the context of COVID-19.

“This will include discussions with ONS regarding how we can work with them in a similar way to the CQC.”

There has been criticism of the lack of testing of residents in care homes in Wales.

Until recently Welsh Government said it was “testing up to five residents” for Covid-19 in any one care home, but was now testing any resident showing symptoms.

Today (Wednesday) Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething rejected a call to test all staff and residents in care settings to mirror England in a policy announced on Tuesday.

Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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