A LEADING opposition councillor is calling for answers as to why Hampshire has more Covid-related deaths in care homes than anywhere else in the country.

Data from the Office for National Statistics reveals there were 423 deaths involving Covid-19 in care homes during March, April and the first week of May in Hampshire County Council area.

Between April 17 and May 8, 353 care home residents died with coronavirus symptoms in Hampshire (excluding Southampton and Portsmouth which are separate authorities) – more than any other area in England. By comparison, Kent which is the largest local authority by population, had 270 deaths over the same period.

In addition, there were 70 coronavirus deaths in care homes across all 11 district councils in Hampshire in the previous five weeks, taking the total number of fatalities to 423.

The official figures relate to all care home settings, private and local authority. However, they do not include care home residents who died from coronavirus in hospital – so the real death toll is even higher.

“It is not a league table that you want to top,” said Cllr David Harrison, Lib Dem opposition spokesman for health and adult social care at the county council, who described the figures as “shocking.”

Cllr Harrison has asked Graham Allen, director of adult health and care at the county council, for a breakdown to show the number of Covid-19 related deaths in individual private and council-run homes, so lessons can be learnt.

He said: “Information is key. The worry is that care homes weren’t properly supported. Discharges from hospital, lack of PPE (personal protection equipment) and agency staff are perhaps the reasons why there are so many fatalities.”

His questions come after the May meeting of the Health and Adult Social Care Committee was cancelled despite the growing coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m disconcerted the whole business of scrutiny has been suspended for a couple of months at the county council,” said Cllr Harrison.


All councils were given to new powers from April 4 to hold public meetings remotely by video or telephone during the coronavirus pandemic. But Tory-controlled Hampshire County Council cancelled all select committees in April, May and June instead of holding them remotely.

Cllr Harrison said councillors received despite daily briefings from the council but had not been alerted to the rising death toll in care homes.

Meanwhile union chiefs have accused the council of failing to protect vulnerable residents and care home staff.

Steve Torrance, Unison union regional secretary for the South East said: These deaths show the Government’s failure to support those in society who are must in need. But questions also need to be asked why the virus has impacted Hampshire’s care homes so savagely.

“Staff looking after care home residents have in many ways been abandoned.

“They’ve been struggling for months with protective equipment shortages, testing delays and inadequate guidance on how to keep themselves and their families safe.”

Earlier this month, Government announced an extra £600m to support providers through a new adult social care infection control fund which, adult social care directors said had come “tragically late in the day” given that the peak in deaths in care homes appeared to have already passed.

Temporary care workers have unwittingly transmitted Covid-19 between care homes, according to a study by Public Health England.

The new fund is supposed to be used to help providers maintain wages for staff, so they don’t need to work extra shifts at other homes.

Cllr Liz Fairhurst, adult social care and health boss at Hampshire County Council, has previously said the number of deaths recorded as Covid-19 related “is not about the quality of care provided in our county, but more about the fact that we are one of the largest local authority areas.”