The government has decided not to progress with amending regulations to require care home provides to stop staff movement at this time. However, restricting the movement of staff between care settings remains essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in care homes.
The plans were fiercely opposed by trade unions, including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which felt staff were being scapegoated.
Patricia Marquis acting RCN England director, said: “The Government’s climbdown is the right decision.
“We warned last year that this move would have had a significant negative effect on social care staff who may have felt they were being scapegoated for spreading Covid-19 when in fact they are integral to safe and effective care measures to stop cross infection.
“There is a workforce crisis in social care and a ban would have compounded an already-difficult situation.
“A ban would have undermined safe, person-centred care and punished unfairly diligent care home workers.
“The Government needs to come up with a long-term plan for the health and social care workforce urgently.”
The government has published updated guidance on restricting staff movement between care homes and other care settings. This guidance makes clear that routine staff movement should not be taking place.
In those limited exceptional circumstances where staff movement is necessary to ensure the delivery of safe care, the guidance provides examples of how to mitigate the risks of this with frequent testing.
In the consultation some respondents called for an increase in staffing capacity instead of regulation to achieve the goal of reducing staff movement except in exceptional circumstances. We have recently announced £120 million of new funding to help local authorities to boost staffing levels.
The purpose of this funding is to enable local authorities to deliver measures to supplement and strengthen adult social care staff capacity to ensure that safe and continuous care is achieved. This includes supporting providers to restrict staff movement between care homes and other care settings by, for example, increasing the utility of the existing workforce by paying overtime or for childcare costs. More detail on this funding is available in the Workforce Capacity Fund guidance.