Coronavirus: Doctor reveals Covid-related deaths of 21 residents at Poplar care home

Robert Henry died at Aspen Court care home. Picture: Amanda Henry/LDRS

Robert Henry died at Aspen Court care home. Picture: Amanda Henry/LDRS - Credit: Amanda Henry/LDRS

Twenty-one people have died with Covid-19 at a Poplar care home at what is thought to be one of the most devastating outbreaks of the virus in London.

Between the end of March and early May, Aspen Court saw 33 residents die, with 21 of the deaths recorded as coronavirus related, the home’s GP Dr Osman Ali said today (Friday, July 3).

The virus is suspected of killing almost a third of the home’s residents at the time, when some 68 elderly people were living there.

The figures came to light in a Tower Hamlets Council meeting where doctors said care homes were “low priority” for testing and PPE.

Dr Ali said: “Aspen Court has a high proportion of elderly residents especially vulnerable to Covid-19.

“During this period there was very little community testing for suspected cases, making it difficult to provide an exact figure. One can only imagine the devastating impact that this virus has had on families.”

Dr Naureen Bhatti told Tower Hamlets’ overview and scrutiny committee: “These are elderly people and we may have lost two or three a month before the pandemic. That has gone up to 20 a month. That is a devastating amount.”

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Robert Henry, 78, was one of the Aspen Court residents who died at the height of the pandemic on April 8.

The father-of-eight suffered from dementia and had been living in the 72 capacity home, run by Britain’s largest care home operator HC-One, for a year.

His daughter Amanda said: “Dad was a really funny, loving, chatty man. I got a call saying he had a temperature. But there was no testing available. I was told doctors had three tests for the entire home.

“When he was very ill I visited and dressed up in flimsy PPE. When I saw him he couldn’t move, drink or eat. I just thoght ‘why isn’t he in hospital’. It felt like he wasn’t a priority.”

Ms Henry received a call on April 8 saying her father was about to die. She rushed to the home and arrived minutes after he passed away.

A spokesman for HC-One said the home is in “recovery”. He added: “Our sympathies are with all families who have lost a loved one. Since the start of the pandemic we have had a comprehensive coronavirus plan in place, which was and updated to reflect government guidance.”

New figures show that between March 2 and June 12 nearly 20,000 deaths of care home residents in England and Wales involved Covid-19.

The Government has faced criticism for failing to act quickly enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus in care homes, including providing widespread access to testing quickly enough.

In May the Government announced all care home staff and residents were eligible for testing with priority for those in homes that look after the over-65s.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “During this unprecedented global outbreak we have kept our social care guidance under constant review and have been working tirelessly with the sector to reduce transmission and save lives.

“We have delivered millions of PPE to the social care sector. As a result, according to the latest PHE statistics, 57 per cent of care homes have had no outbreak at all.”

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