Labour says winter social care plan must be priority

The Labour Party has written to Matt Hancock setting out five key areas where action is needed from the government to protect care homes this winter.

Shadow Social Care Minister Liz Kendall told the Health Secretary that previous mistakes in the handling of the pandemic in care homes cannot be repeated and that ministers must urgently get a grip of the issues to prevent the deadly spread of the virus in care homes.

The letter calls for a plan to protect care homes in five areas: a guarantee that weekly, rapid testing of care staff will take place; ensuring all care workers get the PPE they need; urgent additional support for families and support for families to be able to safely visit care homes; care homes should be supported by the NHS; and social care must have the additional resources it needs throughout the winter and beyond.

In the letter to Matt Hancock, Liz Kendall, Shadow Minister for Social Care, said: “Coronavirus has taken an unimaginable toll on elderly and disabled people, and their families. Reports that infections rates are beginning to rise in care homes once more are a matter of serious concern. With winter and the flu season fast approaching, it is vital that the government now puts in place a clear winter plan to support social care. The government must learn the lessons from mistakes that have been made so far, and show users, families and staff that social care will be a top priority in the months ahead.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Details have so far been lacking on the support that will be made available to social care in the run-up to winter and we urge the government to act now to put this right. A well-resourced social care system is vital to enable the NHS to best respond to the challenges of winter which may include a second coronavirus wave.

“Measures we would like to see include free PPE for all care suppliers, guaranteed testing for both service users and employees, adequate funding to stabilise the sector and a workforce plan to be introduced along similar lines to the recently published NHS People Plan to support those who work within social care.”