Covid-19NewsSocial Care

Carers’ Fears Over Omicron Covid Variant

Carers are calling for urgent Government support to protect the country’s oldest and most vulnerable as the new omicron variant of Covid-19 spreads.

They urgently need more “boots on the ground” to cope with the new variant, winter pressures and a massive shortage of staff.

Care provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG) said today it was vital the Government stepped in to help care settings tackle the ongoing staffing crisis as the new strain and winter demands ramped up the pressure.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Care settings have not eased down for a moment during Covid-19, not for a second, but they are doing so without any great support from the Government.

“Now, as we see the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant and winter starts to bite hard, we need some support, particularly with the ongoing staffing crisis. We need more boots on the ground and we need them today.

“Before the pandemic there were more than 100,000 care staff vacancies.

“The Government’s “no jab, no job” policy has added many more thousands to that shortage – maybe as many as the 60,000 the Government itself feared.

“As it has decided not to delay that in care settings – unlike in homecare and the NHS – we ask today, what are you going to do to help care and nursing homes get through winter, the new omicron Covid variant and the shortage of staff?

“We were already in the eye of a perfect storm, with exhausted and burnt-out carers battling to provide the best care they can as winter sets in; the impact of “no jab, no job” and an inability to recruit from overseas because of Brexit. “Now we have the new omicron variant on top, which means we have to be ever more vigilant, we must have some support if we are going to get through the next few months.”
Some £8bn has been cut from social care since 2010 and pre-pandemic some 1.5m people were not getting the care they needed.

The ICG wants to see urgent support for care staff, starting with the payment of a staff bonus, to get more people into the sector to provide care.

Further ahead, it wants to see root and branch reform of the care system to revolutionise the way we look after older and vulnerable people and reward those who provide the care.

The ICG wants to see:
• A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
• NHS care and social care merged and managed locally or nationally
• Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation
• Dementia treated and funded like other high priority illnesses
• A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
• Proper pay, conditions and career structure for carers
• Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT.