A UNION is calling for answers as to why Hampshire has been affected ‘so savagely,’ as the county’s care homes have been hit with more Covid-19 related deaths than anywhere else in the country.

An update from the Care Quality Commission today (May 19)  showed between April 10 and May 15 a total of 324 care home residents in the Hampshire County Council area have died with coronavirus symptoms.

This is an increase of 49 from the week of May 9 compared to the week before. Between May 1 and May 8 there were new 70 deaths.

The second highest number of care home deaths in England was found in Hertfordshire where there were 235.

Unison South East regional secretary, Steve Torrance, said: ‘These deaths show the government’s failure to support those in society who are most in need of care. But questions also need to be asked about 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 struggled for months with protective equipment shortages, testing delays and inadequate guidance on how to keep themselves and their families safe.’

Care home deaths linked to Covid-19 nationally have now reached a total of 9,762 – an increase in a week of 1,448. The previous week’s increase was 1,923.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, adult social care and health boss at Hampshire County Council, 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 in England, with a correspondingly large ageing population, and over 13,000 care home beds.

‘Every death is a cause for sadness and we continue to pull out all the stops to support the staff and residents in our own homes, as well as the wider sector.

‘This includes working at pace on the delivery of the government’s plans for the roll out of universal testing across all care homes in the county – this will help with the earlier identification and treatment of those with the virus – benefitting all who live or work in a residential or nursing home setting in Hampshire.’