Andy Burnham calls for urgent action to support ‘forgotten’ social care workers

Date published: 14 April 2020

Urgent action is needed from the government to support care homes that are struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said.

‘Forgotten’ social care workers are on the brink of running out of personal protective equipment (PPE), while staff and residents are still not getting tested for Covid-19.

Official figures show that 217 people have died in care homes across England and Wales since December last year – but care providers say the total number is closer to 1,000.

Greater Manchester is still not in a position where it is receiving regular shipments of PPE, with a new government delivery system not expected to be ready for at least two weeks.

Mr Burnham has called on the government to provide a ‘stronger’ support package which includes better testing, support with staffing, greater funding and more PPE.

“The distress signals coming out of our social care system are deeply worrying,” he said.

“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 level of funding afforded to the care system should be on par with that afforded to the NHS, according to Mr Burnham.

With thousands of vacant care posts in Greater Manchester, Mr Burnham also suggested that the government could use volunteers or redeploy NHS staff returning to work to work in social care.

He said: “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.”

The government was also urged to tap into the ‘expertise’ of local authorities in delivering crucial supplies to those in need.

Niall Griffiths, Local Democracy Reporter

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