• Government must put greater focus on care sector and address urgent need for PPE, testing, staffing and funding, says Mayor

A greater focus on supporting the social care sector to deal with the coronavirus outbreak is urgently needed, the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has said.

As the Manchester Evening News has highlighted today (opens new page) with reports from care homes across Greater Manchester, many are on the brink of running out of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and there is a lack of testing for staff and residents, leaving residents and staff at risk of infection.

Greater Manchester is still not in a position where it is receiving regular consignments of PPE for adult social care. The Government’s new system – the ‘Clipper system’ - is not expected to be operational for social care for at least two weeks.

Andy said: “The distress signals coming out of our social care system are deeply worrying.  We urgently need Government to provide a stronger support package for social care: more testing, more help with staffing, increased funding and crucially more protective equipment.

“There are widespread and persistent calls from within the social care system for urgent action.  People on the frontline are saying they feel under-prepared, under-resourced, and forgotten. The Government needs to ensure that the delivery of PPE to all social care settings is much more predictable to avoid shortages and care homes running out entirely.

“But testing is also crucial for staff and residents in our care homes to minimise the risk of spread of the virus.  This needs to be urgently made available for everyone involved in social care.  The Government should also look at the volunteer database and those who have returned to work in the NHS to see if additional staff can be made available to support those working in social care. 

“There are real pressures on our care system, and it needs to receive increased funding and to be treated on a par with the National Health Service to help us get through this.  The hundreds of thousands of residents in care homes across the UK, and the dedicated staff who support them, should not be left to feel like an afterthought.”

While the Government has been announcing the number of people with COVID-19 who have died in hospital on a daily basis, the death toll is higher when including deaths out of hospital. As people aren't tested out of hospital, it’s difficult to get an accurate picture.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (opens new page) today showed that 217 people in care homes across England and Wales are thought to have died from coronavirus from 29 December 2019 to 3 April 2020. A total of 406 deaths occurred outside hospitals in the same period, an 11% increase on official figures counting only those in hospital.

Today, care home providers HC-One and MHA are reporting (opens new page) that 521 residents have sadly died due to confirmed or suspected coronavirus. Care England estimates (opens new page) that the total number of those who died in care homes may have almost reached 1,000.

The Mayor also called on the Government to utilise Local Authorities more to help get equipment to those who need it.

“The Government must listen and make sure that enough PPE and testing is made available in the care sector, but Whitehall simply doesn’t have the capacity to do this", said the Mayor.

"Our Local Authorities have well established logistics systems and know how to get equipment to the front line.  My call to Ministers is clear – use our councils' expertise as part of this national effort.”


Article Published: 14/04/2020 16:07 PM