Responding to yesterdays (April 21) Downing Street briefing, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across healthcare, said:
“The tragedy of what is happening in care homes needs to be a wake-up call for everyone. It should be a priority at national and local level to see that they are given all the support we can muster. The NHS has done a remarkable job in treating very sick Covid patients in hospitals, but we now have a further major challenge which is to protect and support some of the most vulnerable in our community and importantly those who are caring for them.
“The start of human trials of a vaccine provides a glimmer of hope on the horizon. As soon as we do get a vaccine key workers must be given priority access, alongside vulnerable groups.
“Of course we welcome the fact that there have been millions of drop offs of personal protective equipment but these will be used in a matter of days and the reality is that many frontline workers across the NHS, including in primary, community and social care services still do not feel safe.
“The NHS expects announcements when supplies have arrived and not to be let down by guarantees of what may or may not be delivered to its services.
“Repeated failures to deliver on promises of international shipments, while domestic companies are reporting that their offers of support have been ignored, does nothing to secure their confidence, especially when access to tests continues to be an issue too.
“A detailed assessment needs to be carried out of these testing sites, particularly for health and care workers who are too unwell to drive or do not own a car. The current approach means too many staff working in frontline service simply cannot access these tests.
“We are in a global crisis and tensions are high but all of this is putting health leaders, who want to do right by their staff and patients, in an unacceptable position.”
The NHS Confederation also responded to the ONS figures on Covid-19 deaths outside hospital, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said “The sharp rise in care home deaths is deeply alarming – this could be the second front in the battle against Covid19 and we need to do everything we can to support the care sector with the right PPE, training and support in infection control and adequate funding.
“The social care action plan announced last week was welcome but it is clear more needs to be done.
“And if we are to understand the true scale of the spread of Covid-19, the number of deaths in care homes should be released daily in the same way as they are for hospital deaths.
“The overall spike in deaths is also a real concern – we need to know what is behind it as coronavirus cases do not account for all of the extra deaths.
“It may be that coronavirus cases that are going undetected or it may be that other factors related to the lockdown and outbreak are having an impact, such as people not seeking treatment for other conditions.”