Sector leaders have rejected comments by Boris Johnson that ‘too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures’ during the pandemic as ‘neither accurate, nor welcome’.
Speaking yesterday (6 July), during a visit to Goole in Yorkshire, the prime minister reportedly appeared to blame some care homes for the coronavirus death toll amongst residents in recent months.
When asked about comments by NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens about the need to find a long-term solution to the social care funding crisis, Mr Johnson is reported to have said: ‘One of the things the crisis has shown is we need to think about how we organise our social care package better and how we make sure we look after people better who are in social care.
‘We discovered too many care homes didn’t really follow the procedures in the way that they could have but we’re learning lessons the whole time.’
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week show more than half of care homes in England have reported at least one case of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.
The figures, which were part of the Vivaldi study, also show one in five care home residents and 7% of staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
The executive director the National Care Forum, Vic Rayner, said Mr Johnson’s comments were ‘neither accurate, nor welcome’.
‘Government guidance has come to the sector in stops and starts – with organisations grappling with over 100 pieces of additional guidance in the same number of days, much of which was not accompanied by an understanding of the operational implications of operating care services,’ added Ms Rayner.
‘Care providers have moved to adopt these new procedures consistently, at pace and with integrity.’
The chair of the Independent Care Group, Mike Padgham, said: “We should not be getting into the blame game and it is wrong to criticise care and nursing homes at this time.
‘It is worth remembering that in February the government agency Public Health England told homes it was “very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home will become infected” and that homes didn’t need to do anything differently,’ said Mr Padgham.
‘It was many weeks later, after most homes had already put themselves into lockdown, that the advice changed.’
While the assistant general secretary of Unison, Christina McAnea commented: ‘The underfunding of social care shouldn’t be a surprise to the PM. For years care’s been the poor relation. It’s never had enough money – suffering huge cuts, high staff turnover and endemic low pay.
‘Care was exposed and vulnerable from the off. Little or no protective kit, no testing and an absence of full sick pay meant the virus spread easily, with catastrophic consequences.
‘There’s many lessons to be learned. Governments have promised reform but nothing’s happened. Fundamental change must now happen – and quickly,’ she added.
Photo Credit – Truthseeker08 (Pixabay)