THE EXTENT of the toll which the coronavirus pandemic took on Herefordshire's nursing and care homes has been revealed in newly published data from the Care Quality Commission.

More than 100 coronavirus deaths (where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate) have been reported in the county's residential care homes between April 2020 and March 2021.

The worst hit home, with 11 deaths recorded, was Westbank, while 10 deaths were recorded at Hampton Grange and Stretton Nursing Home, and nine at Holmer Court.

The CQC said Charles Court Care Home had also recorded 11 coronavirus-related deaths, but this number is being disputed by the care home's owners, Priory Group, who say their records show there were six coronavirus-related deaths.

There were eight deaths at Holmer Care Home, while Brockington House and The Weir each suffered seven.

Five deaths were recorded at both Ross Court and Lynhales Hall, four at both Leominster Care Home and Charnwood Country Residence, three each at Froome Bank, Gwen Walford House, and The Garth, and two at Rosedale Retirement home.

Field Farm House, Ledbury Nursing Home, Ledbury Intermediate Care, Orchard House, Oaklands Nursing Home, and Brockhampton Court all recorded one death.

Of those, just one care home – The Garth – was listed as a 'designated setting', where people were discharged from hospital with a positive Covid test.

The figures do not include deaths at care homes with fewer than 10 residents as this could make them personally identifiable, the CQC said.

Paul Smith, Director of Adults and Communities at Herefordshire Council, said: "Covid-19 has significantly affected many lives, particularly those living and working in care homes across the country. Our condolences go out to all those families and friends who have lost loved ones.

"Over the past 18 months, care homes have been dealing with an unprecedented situation and have done so with total dedication going above and beyond to support the most vulnerable in our communities. Herefordshire Council committed to buying PPE from the start of the pandemic, ensuring there was a continuous supply and availability for the care sector, and provided infection prevention advice and support which still continues to this day. 

"The vaccination programme across the care home sector has been successful with high levels of uptake across both residents and staff to help protect each other, and we will continue to support our incredible social care workforce who offer vital support to all those who need and rely upon it. They have shown true resilience and strength and the county is fortunate to have such a caring sector."

In April last year, one county care home director, who did not wish to be named, told the Hereford Times of their fears for residents after the Government said it needed care homes to accommodate people discharged from hospital without a Covid test to free up acute beds.

“It is unbelievable what they want us to do," the director said at the time.

"They’ve told us that we aren’t helping if we don’t open our doors to the hospital.

“But without testing them, we are just inviting the virus into the care homes. And once it gets in the death rate will rocket."

More than a dozen of the county's 89 care providers refused at the time to take part in discussions with the county council over taking untested people from hospitals.

Since then, strict measures have been in place in care homes, including restricted visitor numbers and testing of visitors.

According to Government guidance, hospitals must now carry out a Covid-19 PCR test on all people discharged into a care home in the 48 hours prior to discharge.

All who test positive should be discharged into a designated setting in the first instance to see out their isolation period, while those who test negative can be discharged to any care home where they should undergo 14 days of isolation as a precautionary measure.