Care homes “thrown to the wolves” says Public Accounts Committee

By David Forrest - Integrated Care Journal

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee has published a report criticising the Government's inaction on social care during the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the report celebrates the commitment of thousands of staff and volunteers, highlighting that the NHS was able to weather the “severe and immense” challenges faced by health and care services during the pandemic’s April peak, it goes on to state that “unfortunately, it has been a very different story for adult social care. ”

The report finds that the pandemic has exposed the “tragic impact” of “years of inattention, funding cuts and delayed reforms,” which has ultimately resulted in the social care sector suffering during Covid-19.

An additional example of Government complacency over social care was highlighted by the “appalling error” committed by the Government when 25,000 elderly patients were discharged from hospitals into care homes without being tested for Covid-19. It was deemed that this decision was made even once there was clear evidence that asymptomatic transmission of the virus was possible.

“The deaths of people in care homes devastated many, many families. They and we don’t have time for promises and slogans, or exercises in blame. We weren’t prepared for the first wave. Putting all else aside, Government must use the narrow window we have now to plan for a second wave. Lives depend upon getting our response right. ” Says Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee.

The report also shines a light on social care workers “who have endured the strain and trauma of responding to Covid-19 for many months” and are now expected to “cope with future peaks and also deal with the enormous backlogs that have built up”.

A lack of testing and adequate levels of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) resulted in an increased level of stress and absence in the sector, the report explains.

The report has called for a “three-point plan” by September, ahead of a potential second wave, covering health, the economy and procurement of medical supplies and equipment.

The committee is expecting an account to be provided in September of spending under “policies designed to create additional capacity quickly”.

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