Govt ‘out of touch’ on social care crisis

The Independent Care Group has accused the Government of being ‘out of touch’ after it denied there was a permanent crisis in social and NHS care.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, rejected claims that a failure to fix social care and address staffing issues in both social and NHS care had created a permanent crisis.

More than 20,000 patients could not be discharged from hospital last week because there was no care available for them in the community.

The Independent Care Group (ICG) said Mr Javid’s words proved that the Government was out of touch.

Chair, Mike Padgham said: “With the greatest of respect to Mr Javid, I have been delivering social care for 32 years and he has been Secretary of State for 10 months.

“I can say that there has been a shortage of staff in social care for all of those 32 years, but it is the worst it has ever been right now.

“If he doesn’t believe me then I will invite him, as I have done on many occasions, to visit a social care provider here in North Yorkshire and to see for himself the daily battle to get enough staff to cover shifts either in care and nursing homes or to go out and provide homecare.

“Former politician Ed Balls spent time with us last year and saw exactly what it is like delivering care on the front line. Mr Javid would do well to follow his lead and get a better understanding of the situation.

“Social care provision is crumbling before his very eyes and that is having a dire, knock-on effect on the delivery of NHS care, as can be seen from the ever-increasing delayed discharge numbers.

“As Andrew Cozens and many, many others with years of experience in the sector have said, the Government has not ‘fixed social care’ – nowhere near.”

The ICG is also angry that the Infection Control Fund, introduced to help social care providers to cope with staffing issues brought on by the pandemic, was axed at the start of April, with nothing put in its place. It has called on the Secretary of State to reinstate the Fund, as has happened in Scotland, so that providers are better supported.

In a letter to Mr Javid, Mr Padgham said: “Covid-19 infection rates remain high and social care staff, in common with everyone else in the community, are becoming ill and are unable to come to work.

“However, because the Infection Control Fund has stopped, care providers are no longer able to pay those staff for the three days’ sickness that have to elapse before Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from the Government kicks in. Because of the tight margins the majority of providers operate under, they cannot make up the shortfall.

“As a result, there is a very real danger that some of these staff are choosing to come to work, even though they have Covid-19, because they cannot afford not to be paid.

“This will potentially have a devastating impact upon care settings, with the obvious risks of spreading Covid-19 to their residents, homecare clients and colleagues.”