THE care homes which were worst affected by Covid have been revealed for the first time.

In the North East, 2,982 care home residents died with the virus between 10 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.

A further 507 care home residents died with Covid in North Yorkshire.

READ MORE: Every care home in County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire affected by deaths from Covid

Mike Padgham, chair of North Yorkshire-based Independent Care Group, which campaigns on behalf of the care sector, said: “Behind these statistics are stories of personal tragedy and we must never forget that.

“Every Covid-19 death is the sad loss of a much-loved husband or wife, parent or grand-parent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend.

“As care providers today, we mourn each and every one of them.

“All care and nursing homes that have lost residents to Covid-19 have been left changed, shell-shocked and exhausted after shedding blood, sweat and tears to the task of keeping residents and staff as safe as they possibly could in the face of a cruel, indiscriminate and unprecedented pandemic.”

In total, across England there were 39,017 deaths recorded by care homes.

Three care homes in County Durham and Darlington were among 21 to report 30 deaths or more.

Ventress Hall, in Darlington, and Sandringham Care Home in Bishop Auckland both reported 34 deaths from Covid during the almost 12-month period.

A spokesperson for Ventress Hall, which recorded half of its deaths from January to March this year, said: “Our thoughts and condolences are with everyone who has been affected by the pandemic. It is important to caveat any figure with the fact that in the early stages of the pandemic we registered all losses of residents with even the mildest symptoms as possible Covid-19 deaths.

“The criteria for how to identify a Covid-19 related death before testing was widely available will vary between care home operators and it is possible that we are not comparing like with like. It is also worth noting that Ventress Hall is a larger than average care home which is rated as good in all five of the areas the Care Quality Commission inspects.

“Teams in all our homes have worked tirelessly to follow stringent infection control measures and to ensure residents are supported with kind and high-quality care. We are incredibly grateful for their dedication and hard work.”

Melbury Court, in Durham, had 30 deaths. A spokesperson for Melbury Court, which recorded 24 of its 30 deaths between April and June last year, said the last 17 months had been "exceptionally difficult" for everyone connected to the home.

They added: "Every death is a tragedy for the individual’s family and is also deeply felt by our colleagues. Residents and their families become part of our extended family over the time they live with us, and our thoughts and sympathies are with all families who have lost a loved one from coronavirus.   

“The past 17 months have been an exceptionally difficult time for everyone working in and connected to Melbury Court.  

“Throughout the pandemic we have worked tirelessly to protect our residents and colleagues. This includes making sure we were following the government’s guidance at every stage, focusing on the highest standards of infection control, making sure we were using the recommended PPE, utilising all opportunities to participate in testing - including being a government pilot site for whole-home testing – and supporting the vaccine rollout.  

“Despite these measures, sadly our outbreak took place at a time when community transmission rates were very high, and little was known about the virus. The introduction of the regular staff testing programme, and, more recently, the vaccine programme at the end of 2020, have been game changers in helping us to protect our home. As we move forward, we continue to be exceptionally vigilant, especially as lockdown measures continue to ease.  

“We are exceptionally grateful for the ongoing support and understanding of our residents and their loved ones, and we are very proud of how our team rose to the challenges of working on the front lines of the pandemic over the last 17 months.” 

Five homes in North Yorkshire had more than 20 deaths, including Craven Nursing Home Limited, Southlands Care Home, Leeming Bar Grange Care Home, Belmont House Care Home and Beechwood Care Home.

Roseville Care Centre, in Stockton, also had 24 deaths.

A further 63 care homes in County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire had outbreaks resulting in double figure deaths.

The Care Quality Commission published the data yesterday. The watchdog said it had done so to be transparent and to act in the public interest - but had waited until now to make sure it was done so as accurately and safely as possible.

Kate Terroni, 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."

Families who have been campaigning to get the data released say it is vital to have transparency about what happened.

The CQC says it has not found a link between standards of care in a home and the number of deaths.

The regulator adds that many factors are involved, including the levels of Covid in the local community and the age and health of the residents.

Care home managers have a duty to inform the regulator when one of their residents dies.

From 10 April 2020, they also had to say whether Covid was believed to be a factor in the person's death.

The CQC data is based on these notifications.

It also includes the deaths of residents outside care homes, including in hospitals.