A Market Harborough care home had the third highest Covid-19 death toll of any care home in England during the devastating pandemic, it’s emerged.
Some 38 residents at Peaker Park Care Village off Rockingham Road died with the virus between April 10, 2020 and March 31, 2021.
Only a care home in Wigan and one in Somerset lost more people to Covid out of almost 7,000 care homes in the country during that period, a new report shows.
The number of people who died at Peaker Park Care Village, which has up to 137 residents, has been revealed in a new national study by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
And the huge in-depth investigation which has taken months to carry out and compile highlights the terrible human impact of the coronavirus pandemic on care homes nationwide.
The CQC says it has not found a link between standards of care in a home and the number of deaths.
Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough District Council, told the Harborough Mail: “This is obviously very concerning.
“Anyone who has had a relative in a care home during this shattering time for all of us will have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions.
“This is a very emotive issue.
“The Government has to carry out a full and proper inquiry into the pandemic to establish exactly what happened.
“It’s very difficult to hold that now as the pandemic is still going on,” insisted Cllr King.
“But the Government has to give a firmer commitment as to when this inquiry will be held.
“And the inquiry report has to be delivered quickly so that we can all learn crucial lessons for the future.”
Cllr Phil Knowles, who leads the district council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “It is deeply concerning that 38 residents at Peaker Park care home died of Covid over this time.
“I’m not going to speculate about what happened at this particular home because I don’t know.
“But my heart goes out to all of those who lost their lives at this home in Market Harborough as well as to all their families and friends.
“Almost 130,000 people have been killed by the coronavirus in the UK – and that’s a shocking figure.
“The Government has to pull its finger out and hold out a full inquiry into how it’s handled the pandemic now.
“Not next year or the year after but now,” said the veteran health campaigner.
“We have to urgently learn the lessons of the last 18 months or so.
“And if we don’t then we could well repeat the same mistakes when we are hit by the next wave of Covid or another highly-infectious virus.
“It’s vital for all of us, as well as for local care homes in Harborough like Peaker Park, that this Government review is carried out as soon as possible.”
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien told the Mail: “We do need to stage an inquiry into the Covid pandemic but now is not the time.
“We are not out of this yet by any means and the Government is tackling so many crucial issues at the moment.
“Lessons have to be taken on board and what’s happened in specific places (such as Peaker Park) during the outbreak will have to be looked at along with the entire national picture.”
Peaker Park Care Village was opened in June 2011 and is operated by Leicester-based PrimeLife.
Asked by the Mail about the Market Harborough care home’s high number of deaths, James Wood, the company’s managing director, declined to comment.
But PrimeLife said in a statement: “We recognise that the publication of this data may cause distress for bereaved families as well as for staff and residents who live, work, and visit our care homes, and we want to place on record our sincere, and heartfelt thanks for their unwavering support during the most challenging period our industry has ever faced.
“We also want to repeat our sincere condolences to every person who lost a friend, partner, family member or loved one…not just those in our care homes, but across the whole care sector and population.
“We do not plan to comment on the data itself.
“This press release is intended to give some context to the data and sets out some of the challenges which faced our care homes between April 2020 and March 2021, the majority of which continue to this day.
“In the early months of the pandemic, global understanding about the spread of the disease, who was vulnerable to it and effective testing and infection control methods were still emerging,” said PrimeLife.
“PPE (personal protective equipment) was in short supply but was sourced due to the magnificent efforts of our staff, home managers and suppliers.
“Government guidance was issued over months as learning developed, but much of this guidance was introduced with no advance warning or consultation, often being shared with the press and media before those delivering care.
“We worked tirelessly to ensure we always remained ahead of guidance and put the safety of our clients and staff at the heart of everything we did and continue to do.
“Care home workers across the sector were providing care, often to very sick people, initially with very limited support from their GP and community nursing teams as their resources were stretched to the limit.
“They have been and continue to be a great support to all of our homes.
“Our staff helped to provide care and comfort to some of the most deserving but equally most vulnerable people in our society, all of whom were forced into isolation from families, friends and loved ones, managing with limited knowledge about treatments that would be effective.
“Many of our loyal, hardworking staff sacrificed time with their own families in order to care for our residents,” said PrimeLife.
“They also placed themselves at risk by continuing to care for those who had Covid and succumbed to illness themselves.
“At the worst point of the Covid crisis we had approximately 20 per cent of our staff unable to work due to illness and self-isolation but our staff continued to provide a first-class service, by supporting each other, and putting our clients first.
“They have been and continue to be magnificent and deserve our eternal thanks, and the combined efforts of them all ensured that the majority were kept safe and beat Covid, but tragically many of the most vulnerable did not.
“Any loss of life, in any circumstance, is difficult and heartbreaking.
“But our homes worked tirelessly to ensure every client who passed away during this period did so with the respect and dignity they deserved, and where our residents were able to express a choice about their end-of-life care, and their wish was to die in a care home with familiar faces around them, rather than in hospital, this was respected by all PrimeLife care homes.”
Kate Terroni, the CQC’s Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care, said: "In considering this data it is important to remember that every number represents a life lost - and families, friends and those who cared for them who are having to face the sadness and consequences of their death.
"We are grateful for the time that families who lost their loved ones during the pandemic have spent meeting with us and the personal experiences they have shared.
“These discussions have helped us shape our thinking around the highly sensitive issue of publishing information on the numbers of death notifications involving Covid-19 received from individual care homes.”
She added: "We have a duty to be transparent and to act in the public interest.
“We made a commitment to publish data at this level, but only once we felt we were able to do so as accurately and safely as possible given the complexity and sensitivity of the data.”