'ALARMING' new figures show four in 10 care homes in Oxford have been hit by coronavirus.

Oxford's MPs have criticised the Government for being 'too slow to act' in the adult and social care sector in response to the Public Health England data, which reveals that, of the 17 care homes in the city, seven reported a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 up to May 3.

It means 41 per cent of residential and nursing homes had been hit by the virus, though the data contains no indication of whether the reported outbreaks are still active.

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The rate in Oxford is higher than across the rest of the South East, where 31 per cent of care homes have been affected so far and for England as a whole, which has reported cases in 33 per cent of care homes.

It comes as Office for National Statistics data released yesterday showed that 40 per cent of the 6,035 deaths registered in the week ending May 1 were in care homes – though there had been a weekly decrease in care home deaths.

Visits to care homes from families and friends have significantly reduced during the lockdown in order to protect vulnerable residents, while inspections by the Care Quality Commission have been paused for most residences.

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The Department of Health and Social Care said last week that it was supporting the adult social care sector through the outbreak, following concerns frontline care workers were struggling to access Covid-19 tests and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Teresa Lipson, whose 94-year-old mother is in a Sanctuary Care home in the south of Oxford and tested positive for Covid-19, last week raised concerns over a lack of promised testing from the Government.

She said: "The only way she could have caught the virus is from asymptomatic staff carriers. The home has done what it could but is severely hampered by Government inaction."

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds said she was 'deeply concerned' to hear how badly the city's care sector had been affected by Covid-19.

Oxford Mail:

She said: "I know that our carers and care homes are doing their utmost to protect their vulnerable residents, and I have been raising this issue and working with care homes locally.

"However, the Government was too slow to act on the crisis in our care homes, and it must do more to protect carers and residents."

Also read: Map reveals virus deaths in each area of Oxfordshire

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran added it was 'alarming' to hear the rate in Oxford was even higher than across the rest of the South East, thanking care home workers and saying her thoughts were with those who are cared for and their families who will be 'justifiably worried'.

She continued: "With nearly half of Oxford’s care homes reporting confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19, we must act now to prevent that number increasing. That means ensuring all care homes have adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and that the concerns of their staff are properly addressed.

Oxford Mail:

"The crisis in care homes is a massive failure of Government is one of the reason why the Lib Dems have been calling for an inquiry into Covid-19”

Rosalind Pearce, Executive Director of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, however, said that while care homes were 'initially overlooked' in the pandemic, the focus was 'very much' on them now and it was 'sadly inevitable' that as more testing was carried out in homes the number of cases in Oxford would rise.

She added that it was important care homes, local authorities, and health services worked together to ensure residents get the best treatment and staff were provided with appropriate PPE.

Ms Pearce said: "The wellbeing of all residents living in care homes should not be forgotten – isolation from friends and relatives can have a significant impact and care homes should be supported to do this in a humane way.

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“Healthwatch Oxfordshire has launched a survey of all care and nursing homes in the county to understand the challenges facing them in this difficult time and to be able to share stories of success and innovation with other homes.

"I would encourage anyone working in a home to take part in this survey and tell us in confidence about the issues they are facing, what is working well and what local support is like.”

The Healthwatch Oxfordshire survey can be accessed via smartsurvey.co.uk/s/carehomescovid19/ and will be open until May 22.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the Government was working 'around the clock' to ensure the sector in England is getting the support it needs to tackle the pandemic.

He added: "We have launched a comprehensive action plan and provided £3.2 billion to local authorities to help them deal with the impacts of the pandemic on public services, including adult social care."