Health Policy April 1, 2020
Professor Martin Green: A disconnect in the direction of travel

By Professor Martin Green - Accountable Care Journal

The coronavirus pandemic requires all agencies to work together. With the benefit of hindsight, it could have been so much quicker had there been less of a disconnect between social care and the wider health service. It seems absurd that social care, which is right at the centre of Covid-19, has had to fight its corner at both national and local levels.

Social care providers, big and small across the country, are united in their concerns. To date, these have focused primarily on personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and staffing.

The adult social care sector is incredibly supportive of the NHS and, in many respects, is its backbone. The Government was wrong, however, to assume that the care home sector would be in a position to free up 15,000 beds at the blink of an eye. Care homes are desperate to play their part and help, but it would be ridiculous to accept many thousands of hospital patients without either sufficient PPE or testing in place.

We only need to look to Spain to see the devastating impact the vicious disease has had amongst care homes, which in turn has had a knock-on effect on staff and their families.

Without additional support from adult social care, the NHS will be simply inundated when it is already at breaking point. Looking to the future and how this crisis is indicative of the fundamental worth of social care workers, we hope that the Government will ease its immigration policies and also put real oomph into a dedicated recruitment campaign for what is clearly a vital and very skilled profession.

It is absurd to think that we have had to fight for social care workers to be recognised as key workers. Indeed, members have reported that their staff have had their status questioned by supermarkets, schools and police forces.

On the flip side, we have reports of a great many people who are out of a job signing up, via platforms such as www.nationalcareforce.co.uk, to work in social care. The Government needs to amend its employee furlough rules in order to open up jobs in this remarkable sector that spans so many different areas all of which involve care for vulnerable people.


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