New report reveals 28 Covid deaths at Hatfield care home

St Christopher's Care Home in Drakes Way, Hatfield.

St Christopher's Care Home in Drakes Way, Hatfield. - Credit: Danny Loo

A Hatfield care home was one of the worst hit in the county after suffering 28 Covid-related deaths during the course of the pandemic.

St Christopher’s Care Home in the town reported 28 coronavirus deaths, after being affected by an outbreak of the virus before the introduction of more regular testing.

It was one of nine care homes in Hertfordshire which suffered more than 20 deaths involving coronavirus, according to a new report published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The regulator said they had released numbers to produce a “more comprehensive picture of the impact of COVID-19 on care homes, the people living in them and their families.”

The worst-affected care home in Hertfordshire was Pinelodge Care Home in Little Wymondley, which reported the highest number of death notifications with 29, and was one of the worst hit homes in the country.

The CQC report collated all death notifications involving COVID-19 as reported by care homes between April 10 2020 to March 31 2021, and show the scale of the crisis they faced during the pandemic.

These deaths did not necessarily occur in care homes, but were of patients who live in a care setting. So they would include a patient who became infected with COVID-19 while being treated in hospital for something unrelated and then died.

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A spokesperson for St Christopher’s said: “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 St Christopher’s care home. 

“Throughout the pandemic we have worked tirelessly to protect our residents and colleagues. This includes taking steps to ensure all of our homes 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 and supporting the vaccine rollout.

“Despite these measures, sadly our outbreak took place at a time when community transmission rates were high and before the introduction of the more regular testing programme or vaccine programme, both of which have become the best defences we have.

"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.”   

St Christopher's Care Home in Drakes Way, Hatfield.

St Christopher's Care Home in Drakes Way, Hatfield. - Credit: Danny Loo

Other care homes to record more than 20 deaths included 24 recorded at Mayfair Lodge, Potters Bar, and 22 at Heath Lodge, Woolmer Green.

The CQC said: “In considering the data, it is important to remember that every number represents a life lost, and families and friends who are having to face the sadness and consequences of their death. 

“It is also an opportunity to reflect on the dedication of those who worked to save and comfort lives.” 

Hertfordshire County Council added their thanks to people living in care homes during the pandemic, as well as staff and families for their support and patience during the pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “We’d like to take this opportunity to thank care home staff, who have been on the front line of the fight against COVID-19, for their incredible efforts to keep residents safe. They have shown amazing resilience and compassion throughout, while many were also grieving the loss of their residents, colleagues, and own family and friends.

“Whilst the speed of the vaccination programme and easing of restrictions gives us hope for the future, we’re not out of the woods just yet and so we remain vigilant and continue to work closely with all our care providers and the NHS to manage positive cases and outbreaks at residential settings."