Sal Brinton on Government “lie” on care homes and Covid-19

Lie is not a word anyone in politics uses lightly. But Lib Dems Lords Health and Social Care spokesperson Sal Brinton used it today in response to Michael Gove’s interview on the Andrew Marr Show .

On Friday, Ed Davey said that the Government had to “get a grip” on the crisis in our care homes:

The figures released today showing that more than 12,500 care home residents have died of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic are incredibly tragic and will horrify the British public. Even worse, the vast majority of these tragic deaths took place in a care home itself, not at a hospital where these people could have received critical care.

The virus has swept through care homes right across England and Wales, where our most vulnerable were being looked after. The Prime Minister must come forward and explain how this dreadful situation has been allowed to happen under his watch.

The Liberal Democrats and others have been repeatedly calling for care homesto be provided with adequate personal protective equipment and access to frequent testing. How many lives will be lost before the Government resolves this crisis?

If we are to keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe, the Government must get a grip on the spread of coronavirus in our care homes.

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  • ‘Protective ring’ round care homes since February.This ‘ring’ in Feb was ADVICE to them. They stated that care homes were not in danger. As a result little would be done cos Care Homes would trust!? the Govnt. This lie should be widely published.. Care homes are run for PROFIT.As a result PPE equipment would not be on a list of purchases when covering a budget,increases costs. The whole Care System needs reforming.

  • Last Sunday Johnson said £600 million was being made available to assist care homes. I have not seen anyone ask what this money is for, when it is going to be made available, or if it is actually real money. It seems like such a massive amount to me that I wonder whether it is actually a Johnsonian “fantastic” amount?

  • I have repeatedly called for the integration of the Care service with the NHS….. for professional standards, training and employment conditions.

    Yet again tonight, a report in the Guardian underlines this position :

    “Agency staff were spreading Covid-19 between care homes, PHE found in April.

    What are bank and agency temporary care staff? Some care-home providers employ a bank of care workers who are available to send into short-staffed homes. They are often employed on zero-hours contracts, work across several homes in one area and make up about 10% of the social care workforce. Agency care workers are also paid by the day and tend to earn slightly more than staff, who on average receive just £8.10 per hour – less than shop workers and cleaners. Care homes are three times more likely to rely on staff supplied by agencies than other parts of the labour market, according to the Office for National Statistics labour force survey.

    Social Care should not be done on the cheap.

  • Desperate as the staffing issues in care homes are, exacerbated by pre-existing personnel shortages and staff on sick leave, it is even worse in the domiciliary care sector.
    As the Guardian article notes
    “The lessons learned too late in the residential care system are not yet being applied in the home care system, which suffers many similar problems and looks after far more people,” said Colin Angel, the policy director for the professional association of home care providers from the independent, voluntary, not-for-profit and statutory sectors.
    “Home care is the forgotten cousin of the already second-class social care sector, both in terms of lack of attention and understanding from government,” he said.
    About 97% of the UK’s home care is provided by independent providers. These providers make more than 1m visits a day to vulnerable people in their homes. But there is no centralised record of the numbers who rely on their support and very limited oversight of their financial stability.

  • The financial pressures facing private care homes and domiciliary care providers has reached crisis point. Care Homes in North Tyneside have issued a legal letter declaring a ‘Force Majeure’ warning the sector will collapse ‘within five days’
    “This letter stands as our client’s formal notice to the council that the care home market within North Tyneside is facing imminent collapse due to the council’s conduct in the lead up to and during the current coronavirus pandemic.”
    “The council has through its own sustained actions over a number of years, weakened and undermined the sustainability of the care home market; such that the market is incapable of withstanding the costs and effects of Covid-19.”
    “As vacancies increase due to deaths, with fewer and fewer (if any) new admissions, the running of homes within North Tyneside is becoming increasingly unsustainable.”
    “Additional 5% payments are calculated to the exclusion of those residents who fund their own care provision, yet who equally require Covid-19 care and protection.”
    It declares a “force majeure” which essentially frees both parties from their obligations under the contract due to an extraordinary event or circumstance.
    This forces the council to step-in overnight and assume responsibility for the care homes Lasy month Care England wrote to the health secretary saying “We’re seeing people in [care homes] being abandoned to the worst that coronavirus can do,”. “Instead of being allowed hospital care, to see their loved ones and to have the reassurance that testing allows; and for the staff who care for them to have the most basic of PPE, they are told they cannot go to hospital, routinely asked to sign ‘do not resuscitate’ orders, and cut off from families when they need them most.”
    Domiciliary care providers are in even worse shape and many elderly people may be left to fend for themsdelves
    If the UK’s largest private care firms collapse as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the government will have no choice but to step in. Drip feeding funding to local authorities that doesn’t reach the frontlines is too little much too late. The government is going to have to step in and take the sector back into public ownersip.

  • Clive Jones 19th May '20 - 1:35pm

    On 3rd April our Borough council received a directive from the government. Care Homes in our borough had to accept residents from hospitals, we were not allowed to refuse them a place in our homes. Tests were NOT being carried out to see if any of these people had Covid19.
    The government knew they were forcing people from hospital into Care Homes full of vulnerable people who wouldn’t survive if they caught the virus.
    The government took this decision because they wanted hospital clear of as many people as possible.
    It was a poorly judged decision and the Ministers should be apologising. instead of claiming they put an arm around Care Homes. What rubbish!

  • @ Joe Bourke Your quote : “The council has through its own sustained actions over a number of years, weakened and undermined the sustainability of the care home market; such that the market is incapable of withstanding the costs and effects of Covid-19.”

    Wrong target, Joe : and some of us (who fought for our share of central government funding as Councillors responsible for Social Care) pointed this out clearly to ‘our’ Central Government at the time post 2010.

    A BMJ Report spelt it out : “The squeeze on public finances since 2010 is linked to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in England, with the over 60s and care home residents bearing the brunt .. reveals the first study of its kind’. The BMJ online journal Open.

    A critical factor in these figures may be changes in nurse numbers, say the researchers, who warn that there could be an additional toll of up to 100 deaths every day from now on in. They estimate that an annual cash injection of £6.3 billion would be needed to close this ‘mortality gap.’ ………and that’s before Covid and the pursuit of profit.

    That’s one of the many reasons why I, as a Liberal Democrat Councillor, had a change of attitude towards the party. I saw first hand what austerity 2010-15 did..

  • David Raw,

    there is plenty of blame to go around here. The big, private equity and debt-financed care homes, the labour government of Blair/Brown, the Coalition and the subsequent Conservative government for a failure to address these issues.
    I argued year after year against the hypocrisy of our own labour controlled local authority cutting back care services while at the same time lauding their cost-efficiency in freezing council tax.
    We had reached an agreement, based on the Dilnot proposals, for funding adult social care by 2015 but it was pulled by the Tories after the election

    As the Kings fund noted:
    “…the deepening fault-line between universal NHS care that is free at the point of need and social care that is rationed to people with the highest needs and lowest means is not sustainable. That is why we endorse the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England for a new settlement in which there is a single ring-fenced budget for social care as well as health.”

    “…the NHS may attract the loudest political noise but recent pressures in emergency care have highlighted the crucial inter-dependency of social care and the NHS. The coalition has done well to pass the Care Act, but bigger change is now needed. In an ageing society social care has become too important to play second fiddle to the NHS.”

    I think we have run out of road now. The government is going to have to step in and take the sector back into public ownership, not in a few years but over the coming days and weeks.

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