BROMSGROVE has one of the highest Covid-19 death rates of any local authority in the country, the Advertiser can reveal – and a leading doctor blames the neglect of care homes by the government.
Of 329 local authorities across England and Wales, Bromsgrove has the 15th highest coronavirus death rate – and the third highest in the West Midlands with only Walsall and Stratford-upon-Avon faring worse.
Figures up to and including May 8 show that Bromsgrove had 105 deaths among a population of 98,662, equating to 106.4 deaths per 100,000 population which is used as a comparative measure.
While statistics had already shown Bromsgrove has been the worst-hit part of Worcestershire by the pandemic, the national comparison is even more alarming, admitted Dr David Nicholl.
Dr Nicholl, a Birmingham consultant neurologist from Hagley, who stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate in Bromsgrove at last year’s general election, was shocked by the data.
He said: “It could be down to various factors, such as Bromsgrove’s proximity to Birmingham and you can sometimes get clusters of cases which skew things but I think this is most likely about care homes.
“The mistake was not dealing with the care home situation seriously and quickly enough because you get pockets of infections there where it is easier for the disease to spread and re-spread.”
The majority of the most-affected areas are from the South East and London, where cases of coronavirus sky-rocketed quickly in the early weeks of the pandemic.
However, the appearance of Bromsgrove so high on the list is a warning to all locally to realise the fight against the disease is far from over, Dr Nicholl advised.
Birmingham, by contrast, was 45th with 1,024 deaths – a rate of 89.7 per 100,000 population, while Worcester was way down in 236th, with 51 deaths, a rate of 50 per 100,000 population.
Dr Nicholl added: “Cases are coming down but this is precisely the reason we need to be acting like countries such as South Korea, tracking and tracing.
“The reason we are in this mess is that we acted far too late.
“We should be treating Covid as we would MRSA and clamp down on any infections in care homes and on cold wards (non-coronavirus wards) in hospitals.
“Each ward should be reporting its Covid rates and that is something I feel Public Health England should act on – the way to deal with this is through transparency.”