BASW England responds to PAC report into initial Covid-19 response for social care
The Public Accounts Committee reveals the Government did not protect adult social care in the same way as the NHS
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report Readying the NHS and social care for the COVID-19 peak published this week makes for stark reading.
It is honest and highlights the lack of government preparedness, planning and the inequality of response and support to Social Care.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (between the period 2 March to 12 June 2020, registered up to 20 June 2020), there were 66,112 deaths of care home residents (wherever the death occurred); of these, 19,394 involved COVID-19, which is 29.3% of all deaths of care home residents.
Yesterday, a Office of National Statistics report revealed that England had the highest percentage of indirect and direct Covid-19 related deaths in Europe from March – May 2020 during the first quarter of the pandemic.
Adult social care was not protected in the same way as the NHS, social care was not put on the same footing as the NHS and people have paid with their lives.
BASW England commends the incredible contribution, dedication and hard work of social care and health staff, volunteers, families and communities pre and during this ongoing pandemic.
BASW is acutely aware that Covid-19 will be with us for a long time to come and there are likely to be many more sector wide strategic and operational challenges ahead, including planning and preparedness during the winter months.
This is not about blame, this is about government accountability, being transparent and open about mistakes, and reflecting upon the different values and attitudes towards ‘health and social care’.
Why was there never a strong visual message ‘Protect the NHS and Social Care’ on the podiums at government press briefings? Social care was not at the forefront of being ‘protected’ by government from the impact of Covid-19 until it was too late.
As highlighted in the PAC report the first cases of Covid-19 deaths were reported on January 31. The report highlights that as resource investment increased for the NHS it was a very different story for adult social care.
After a legacy of funding cuts and reduced resources, adult social care then had to respond to 25,000 adults being discharged from hospitals to care homes without being tested for Covid-19 in addition to care home staff not being systematically tested at that time.
BASW has consistently campaigned on the importance of all social care staff having access, to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including training on safe use, storage and disposal of PPE.
We strongly support the view that the Government needs to work urgently now to ensure that there is enough capacity—including both testing and PPE—and continued support for staff and volunteers so the nation is ready for future COVID peaks and especially during the winter months.
Alongside Covid-19 it is likely the winter pressures will include responding to outbreaks of flu, new strains of swine-flu and norovirus.
BASW England national director, Maris Stratulis, comments: “BASW England supports all of the recommendations report and welcome the cross-party representation on the Committee. Giving adult social care equal support and investment (pro rata) based on historical comparator investment in the NHS is essential in future preparedness and system changes.
“There needs to be a culture shift in government recognising the value of social care including the system leadership roles of social workers in integrated social care and health services.
“It is an absolute credit to hard working and dedicated staff that essential services have been maintained throughout the pandemic but we also need to acknowledge that there has also been a terrible toll on the wellbeing of some staff, families and our communities, this must not be allowed to happen again.”
Clinical Commissioning Groups
From a systems perspective we also need to consider the role that Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) played in decision making at the outset of the pandemic, discharge processes from acute services and financial incentives being offered to provider services to take people from hospital.