Jump in care home cases worries providers
Worried care providers today called for greater Government support after a steep rise in the number of Covid-19 deaths in care and nursing homes.
New figures out today showed that 106 people died in homes in the week ending 16th October, a sharp rise on the previous week’s total of 63.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said the figures were worrying and called on the Government to provide greater support, starting with reinstating the VAT break on personal protective equipment.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “This is a significant increase this week and worryingly shows that Covid-19 is starting to take hold again amongst the most vulnerable.
“We have to get greater support to the frontline to prevent a repetition of what happened during the first wave.”
From 1st November care providers will be paying more for personal protective equipment (PPE) for their staff when a temporary reduction in VAT comes to an end.
Mr Padgham said this was going to come at the worst possible time.
“A big rise in the cost of PPE is coming just at a time when care providers need every penny to fight the second wave of Covid-19 which is now hitting the sector,” he said.
“Care providers are already struggling financially because of reduced admissions and take-up and can do without another rise in their costs. If we are to fight the second wave, we are going to need some financial help.”
The Government had suspended VAT on PPE to help care providers until the end of this month. Whilst providers do get some PPE free of charge, it is nowhere near enough to cope with what is needed during the pandemic, particularly in nursing homes and for those caring for people with high levels of need in their own homes.
The ICG and other campaigners have long called for social care to be permanently zero-rated for VAT to end an anomaly that penalises the sector. Care providers are charged VAT for products and services but cannot charge VAT to offset any of those costs. The ICG has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to end the unfair anomaly.
“This added cost at this critical time highlights once again the unfairness of charging care providers VAT when NHS providers are exempt,” Mr Padgham added.
“In tackling Covid-19, like tackling all the care issues we face, we should have parity with NHS care and should be zero-rated for VAT.”
Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show 106 people died from Covid-19 in care and nursing homes across England and Wales in the week ending 16th October, up from 63 the previous week.
Deaths have been rising over the previous weeks, at 48, 38, 31, 27, 17 and 23, respectively. Some 15,819 people died from Covid-19 in these homes from 28th December to 16th October.