THE tragic real-life impact of coronavirus in York's care homes has been laid bare by the nation’s care watchdog in newly published figures.

Behind each number, it says, is a special and irreplaceable loved one whose life was cut short by the virus.

The Care Quality Commission said it was publishing figures on death notifications it received from named homes for the first time in a bid to be transparent, following earlier requests to share the data.

The organisation said releasing the information earlier in the pandemic could have had a “serious impact on continuity of care” but it is doing so now as risks have changed.

In York, 150 care home residents died with Covid-19 between April 10, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

The highest number of fatalities, 87, were recorded between April 10 and June 30 last year, during the early weeks of the pandemic. Overall, 25 individual care homes in the area reported at least one Covid-19 related death.

The data covers deaths of care home residents involving coronavirus, regardless of where the disease was contracted or where the death occurred.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents independent care homes, said the figures must not be seen as an indication of quality.

He said: “It is important that the statistics are seen in context and that the entire system learns lessons from this data.

“I would like to pay tribute to all the frontline staff who have done a heroic job and it must not be forgotten that many of them lost their lives too.”

Meadowbeck Care Home in Osbaldwick recorded 22 deaths - the highest number recorded across all named homes in the city.

Barchester Healthcare, which manages the home, said the pandemic had proved to be "a challenging time" - adding that there was "very little known about the virus and no testing available for a number of months".

A spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by the losses.”

They said the data included deaths suspected to be down to Covid rather than confirmed as such and where residents may have first contracted the virus in hospital. They added: “As such we are contesting some of the deaths listed for those reasons.”

Minster Grange Care Home in Clifton recorded 21 deaths. Clinton Taylor, group clinical director of Maria Mallaband Care Group, said the virus most affected "those who had existing health issues or were being given palliative care".

Mr Taylor said: “The majority of those who unfortunately passed away did so during the first wave in April and May 2020, a time when evidence and guidance was changing regularly and so much remained to be understood."

The following care homes in York recorded five or more deaths: Birchlands Care Home (8), Broadway Lodge Residential Home (5), Chocolate Works Care Village (8), Connaught Court (9), Derwent House Residential Home (12), Ebor Court (7), Fulford Nursing Home (5), Handley House (9), Ivy Lodge Retirement Home (5), Mulberry Court (9) and Peppermill Court (5).

The Press approached Derwent House Residential Home's provider, Sure Healthcare, for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said the Government has done “all it can” to protect vulnerable people in adult social care throughout the pandemic.

The spokeswoman said: “We have provided billions of pounds to support the sector, including on infection and prevention control measures, free PPE, priority vaccinations and additional testing."

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said care homes that have been impacted the most nationally are generally in areas with high cases in the community.

The director said: “It would be easy to assume that if a care home has experienced a large volume of Covid-19 deaths that must mean it’s not very good, but this would be unfair.

“This is more a tragic accident of geography than anything else.”

The CQC said infection control inspections were carried out throughout the pandemic and the body praised the efforts of care home staff.

Kate Terroni, CQC’s chief inspector for adult social care, called for “consideration and respect” to be shown to care home residents, their families, and staff.

She said: “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.”