Barnet has so far seen the second-highest number of care home deaths involving Covid-19 in London, official figures show.

The borough recorded 63 deaths in care homes involving the virus between April 10 and May 29, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It is the second-highest number out of 32 London boroughs.

Only Enfield saw a higher number of deaths involving Covid-19 – 73 during the same period.

According to the council, Barnet has 84 care homes – one of the highest numbers in London.

The majority are in the private sector, with three – Meadowside, Dell Field and Apthorp Care Centre – under the direction of council-owned Your Choice Barnet.

Barnet Council says it has been offering support to care providers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The local authority has supplied more than 600,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to care providers, organised deliveries of food and basic supplies, and offered support and training on Covid-19.

Financial support provided by the council includes a short-term increase in care fees for care homes and an offer to reimburse additional PPE costs. The council said further funding will be confirmed shortly.

A Barnet Council spokesperson said: “There are 84 Care Quality Commission-registered care homes in the borough and 2,505 registered beds. This is among the highest of any London borough.

“We continue to work very closely with care homes, and all care providers, to support them to provide top-quality care for our residents at all times.”

Although health secretary Matt Hancock recently claimed the Government had thrown a “protective ring” around care homes from the start of the crisis, ministers have faced criticism over an apparent lack of support for the sector – including shortages of PPE and inadequate testing.

The Government subsequently rolled out mobile testing units and announced tests would be made available to all care home staff and residents, whether or not they had symptoms.

On May 26, the Government announced a further significant boost to the supply of PPE, signing deals with 100 new suppliers around the world and increasing domestic production. An online portal has also been set up to allow care firms to order PPE.

Nadra Ahmed, chief executive of the National Care Association, which represents small and medium-sized care providers, commented: “This has been one of the most challenging times for providers as they faced this deadly virus without support from both central and local government at the outset.

“Providers had to fight hard to get PPE as their usual suppliers started to tell them their stock was being requisitioned for the NHS. Primary care support was cut back leaving providers to cope on their own.

“The care home staff have worked incredibly hard under these circumstances to support the vulnerable residents in their care. They are now building on their experiences to prepare for any further waves which include keeping a good stock of PPE.

“Additionally, requests for tests are critical as that is the only way to keep the virus out of the services and we know that many providers are having to wait weeks for these tests and the results to arrive, which is totally unacceptable.

“Providers are also fighting for viability as monies released through central government for Covid costs and infection control is not finding its way to the front line in any meaningful way. Clearly, there is still a great deal of clarity required to ensure that we can implement a new normal in our service.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “During this unprecedented pandemic, we have seen around the world that the virus can have a devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable people.

“We are doing everything we can to support the social care sector, including ensuring millions of items of PPE are available to care workers, using our increased testing capacity to test care home residents and staff regardless of symptoms and introducing a new £600 million Infection Control Fund to help prevent the spread in care homes.

"We are clear that no wholesaler has been asked to prioritise NHS provision over the care sector, nor should they be doing so. If there is any indication that social care wholesalers are prioritising the NHS, providers should make us aware.’’