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Urgent Question on Coronavirus and care homes

19 May 2020

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Liz Kendall asked Matt Hancock, Health Secretary to make a statement on Coronavirus and care homes.

Matt Hancock: "we have worked hard to protect those in social care"

Matt Hancock told the House that "in the UK 89% of all deaths have been those aged above 65".

He says "we have worked hard to protect those in social care" and went on to say that "in early March we put £3.2 billion into social care".

Testing

Mr Hancock said:

"Last week we set out a further £600 million to strengthen infection control and this comes on top of a substantial programme of support.

Testing, from the start, we have tested symptomatic residents of care homes, even when testing capacity was much lower and this has always been a top priority.

We're now testing all care home residents and staff in England. Both those with symptoms and those without.

This is being done according to clinical advice starting with the most vulnerable and extending to working age residents too."

NHS support

He says the Government is "putting in place a named clinical lead for every care home in England and bought NHS infection control expertise to the sector".

Local authorities

"Councils are conducting daily reviews of the situation on the ground in local care homes so every care home gets the support they need every day", said the Health Secretary.

PPE

Mr Hancock says the Government is supporting care homes with getting PPE.

Social care workforce

The Health Secretary told the Commons that the Government has increased the social care workforce during this crisis and provided more support.

Data returns

Matt Hancock said "we're requiring much better data from social care" as "partial data has bedevilled the management of social care", making policy making more difficult.

He continued:

"Regular information returns are required in return for this latest funding and we are looking to change the regulations to require data returns from every care provider so we can better prepare and support social care."

Liz Kendall: "Ministers have been too slow to tackle the problem in care homes "

Liz Kendall responded to the statement. She said "over 23,000 more people have died in care homes in the first 4 months in this year compared to last."

She went on to say that "ministers have been too slow to tackle the problem in care homes, social care has not had the same priority as the NHS and these services have not been treated as inextricably linked." 

She asked the Health Secretary to "explain why guidance saying that care homes were very unlikely to be effected wasn't withdrawn until 12 March."

She also asked Mr Hancock to explain "why there was no requirement to test those being discharged to care homes, the very group most at risk, until 15 April".

She questioned Matt Hancock on PPE for care providers who had "serious problems getting PPE".

Care homes told Liz "they can't access the Government's new online testing portal, tests aren't being picked up and it's often weeks until they get results back." She asked when this will be sorted.

Liz called on the Government to make the same commitment as the NHS, getting "whatever resources it takes to deal with the virus" for social care.

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