The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced plans to extend the Infection Control Fund to help care providers bolster infection control.
The fund, which was set up in May, has been extended until March 2021.
A spokesman for DHSC said the extra £546m will help the care sector restrict the movement of staff between care homes to stop the spread of the virus.
The spokesman said the fund will help care providers pay staff full wages when they are self-isolating, and enable staff to work in only one care home, reducing the risk of spreading the infection.
However, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea warns that the money is not getting through to the care staff, who have to rely on statutory sick pay when self-isolating, rather than being paid in full.
‘With a shambolic testing system and infection rates starting to skyrocket, care homes need all the protection they can get.
‘Extending the funding was the least that could be expected, but the money is simply not getting through to the care staff that need it.
‘Many are expected to get by on just £95 a week if they need to stay off work, when they deserve to be paid in full. Ministers must get tough with care employers.
‘But the focus is still on care homes. Many care workers are also out in the community going from home to home. They and the people for whom their visits are essential have been given barely a thought.’
Cllr David Fothergill, health and social care spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said government needs to ‘learn from the lessons of the first wave’.
‘Today’s announcement that the infection control is going to be renewed for over the winter is reassuring to our staff and care providers who are facing up to a difficult few months.
‘We need to learn from the lessons of the first wave of coronavirus and ensure that government provides social care with the necessary protection it needs over the winter period, instead of seeing the sector as an afterthought to the NHS.
‘County authorities have worked quickly to distribute this previous pot of funding directly to providers and will continue to do so over the coming weeks as we prepare for additional pressures during winter.
‘We will encourage ministers to make sure the criteria for distributing the fund is as simplified as possible, so councils can get it to the frontline as quickly as possible.’
Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive, Care England said he is looking forward to hearing more details about the Adult Social Care Winter Plan, which DHSC will be released this week.
‘Care England welcomes the extension in time and scope of the Infection Control Fund.
‘It has been a real lifeline for care homes in this incredibly challenging time.
‘We look forward to learning more details in due course and the associated winter plan.’
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: ‘From the very beginning we have done everything possible to make sure our social care system is protected and has the resources it needs to keep our brilliant workforce and those they care for safe.
‘This new funding of over half a billion pounds will support not only care home residents, but also some of the most vulnerable in society living at home and in supported living.
‘I know this will give peace of mind to so many, and we will set out further detail in our Adult Social Care Winter Plan this week.’
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