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Care providers struggling on the coronavirus frontline

The Independent Care Group (ICG) has warned many care providers are still struggling with a lack of PPE and testing availability.

A survey of the group’s members reveals that two thirds (66%) said they have had challenges over PPE and more than half (53%) had also experienced challenges with testing.

And just over 45% of those who responded said they envisaged their business being at financial risk because of the fight against coronavirus.

The group’s chair, Mike Padgham said the survey reveals social care providers are ‘struggling on the front line against Covid-19’.

“They are struggling to get adequate PPE, struggling to get the right testing and not getting the right financial support to help them get through this critical period of the pandemic,’ said Mr Padgham.

The survey also comes as the government announces it will waive VAT on PPE products bought by care homes in the next three months as the battle against coronavirus continues.

Almost three quarters (70%) of those who responded said they felt the financial support that commissioners have offered had not been satisfactory and the ICG says more needs to be done by the Government to support them too.

‘The bulk of social care commissioning is done by local authorities who are struggling too,’ added Mr Padgham.

‘The government has provided extra support to local authorities but that has to help them to cope with all aspects of coronavirus, not just social care. The government has to ensure that they are better funded so that they can, in turn, support care providers better.

‘The survey also strengthens calls on the government to ensure that PPE is more widely available, that testing gets carried out and that financial support for the sector gets to the front line.’

The ICG has previously warned that care providers are being hampered in their fight against Covid-19 through a lack of PPE and insufficient testing.

It has also called on the government to provide better financial support for care providers amidst concerns that the £3.2bn so far pledged for local authorities to help them support social care is not getting to the front line.

‘Care providers have been suffering financial hardship for many years due to chronic under-funding,’ the chairman added.

‘Now they are facing huge increases in costs, for instance the costs of bringing in agency staff to cover for staff who are unwell, sick pay costs and the increasing cost of protective equipment.  Due to stopping admissions, some care homes are also seeing a dramatic reduction in income and homecare providers are suffering a reduction in contracts.

‘The government has repeatedly promised to do whatever was needed to get the country through the pandemic. Social care now needs that action, otherwise providers will not be able to play their part in beating Covid-19 and many could cease to operate at all.’

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