In a House of Lords virtual sitting on 22nd April 2020 Baroness Wheeler asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the analysis by Care England which suggests that there have been significantly more deaths caused by Covid-19 in care homes than have been reported.” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, it is not just care homes facing these very serious challenges; I have learned that it is also hospices and sheltered accommodation, among other places. Managers responsible for those organisations are under enormous pressure trying to ensure safe staffing levels and the safety of their staff. I hope that sufficient PPE will soon be secured and distributed. Although I recognise the enormous challenge and the efforts that are being made towards that, in the immediate context where we do not have that, can the Minister tell us how the Government aim to advise and support those responsible for running our care homes, sheltered accommodation and hospices, who are having to make such difficult decisions now and many of whom feel abandoned and rather lonely in that responsibility?
Lord Bethell: The right reverend Prelate makes the completely fair point that this disease is utterly unfair and cruel in the way that it targets the old and the vulnerable, and those who are in the front line of our care system are carrying the greatest burden of all. Huge resources have been put in place, both financially and in terms of seeking to recruit more staff, but undoubtedly more can be done. Guidelines are evolving at great pace regarding both PPE and other care arrangements, and we are constantly reviewing and updating both the arrangements and guidelines for care home staff, as she suggests.