The MP for Basingstoke has said lessons must be learnt after a report revealed the scale of Covid deaths at the town's care homes.

Maria Miller was reacting to a CQC report which revealed more than 100 people died from Covid at care homes across the Basingstoke area.

She has now said her thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones and added that it is "essential" that lessons are learnt.

The MP also paid tribute to care home workers, saying "we owe [them] a huge debt of gratitude".

Mrs Miller said: “People living in our care homes are some of the most vulnerable in our community and every death is a deep tragedy.

"Following the publication of this report my thoughts are again with all those who lost loved ones who lived in a care home.

"It has been particularly challenging and heartbreaking for these families, unable to make regular visits or to be with their loved ones for their final days or hours. 

“The Care Quality Commission’s report illustrates the painful reality of the past 16 months and what the data shows most vividly is the story of the pandemic in the UK with care homes in the North West experiencing the most covid related deaths in the first wave of the pandemic with care homes in the South East harder hit in the second wave when the Alpha variant of the virus was predominant. 

“As the Inspector sets out, caution needs to be taken in how this data is interpreted and that the report’s figures do not directly link to standards of care in a home. 

“How the pandemic is being handled is under scrutiny by a number of Parliamentary Committees.

"It is essential that we learn from the events of the past 15 month so that we can uphold the highest standards of care across the country.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to care home workers who have been tirelessly fighting the Coronavirus this past year and a half, protecting our most vulnerable in society in exceptionally difficult circumstances.”

It comes after a Liberal Democrat councillor in Basingstoke called for the government to immediately begin the public inquiry into the pandemic to start to learn lessons.

Cllr Gavin James said: "We know there is going to be another winter, and the government are talking about another booster vaccine. There is a risk of more death.

“We have got another year to wait until the independent inquiry. It has to start now.

“It is time to stop dragging our heels and start this inquiry.

“These are real lives. These are loved ones that have been isolated for a year.

“The healing process is difficult but it may being if they can understand why.”

The independent public inquiry into the Covid pandemic is scheduled to start next Spring, and Boris Johnson has so far resisted calls for this to be escalated.

He previously told MPs the delay was necessary to avoid putting too much stress on the NHS, advisers and government while there was the risk of a winter surge later this year.

But senior judge Sir Robert Owen has urged that the inquiry should start now, warning that if it does not report back for four or five years “it ceases to form a useful function”.