THE Government has finally responded to an urgent letter from campaigners on the chronic staffing crisis in the care of our most vulnerable – FOUR MONTHS after the message was sent.
Mike Padgham, Chair of the provider organisation The Independent Care Group (ICG) wrote to the Health Secretary Sajid Javid about the shortage of front-line care staff, on 19th August.
But he has only now received a reply.
Mr Padgham said today: “I think that tells you everything you need to know about the urgency with which the Government treats the care of our most vulnerable.”
In his letter, Mr Padgham said the crisis in social care staffing levels was so bad that care and nursing homes and those providing care in people’s own homes could no longer cover shifts. At the time, he urged Mr Javid to seek a recall of Parliament from its summer recess to tackle the situation.
He wrote: ‘The staffing crisis is now so bad that providers are battling day to day to cover shifts both in homes and in looking after people in their own home. Many say it is the worst they have known in more than 30 years and so we need urgent action now, before the added pressures of winter turn this into a total meltdown.
‘I would suggest that the situation is so dire that Parliament should be recalled to take action, before the care of our oldest and most vulnerable people is put at any further risk.’
The reply came from Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries at the
Department of Health and Social Care.
It reads: ‘Thank you for your correspondence of 19 August about social care. I have been asked to reply and I apologise for the delay in doing so. This has been caused by an unprecedented volume of incoming correspondence during recent months.’
The letter then sets out the Government’s September announcement of an additional £5.4b over the next three years and the new £86,000 cap on lifetime care costs.
Mr Padgham said: “It is disappointing that the department took so long to reply and then answered with information that we already know.
“The changes set out in September are a start but will go nowhere near addressing the shortage of 120,000 staff or the deep-rooted crisis in care which has left 1.5m without the care they need.
“Where is the answer to the £8bn cut from social care since 2010? Where is the solution to the huge funding gap between the true price of care and what providers are being paid?
“How are care providers going to get through this winter with no funding and no staff?”
The ICG is calling for a root and branch overhaul of the way care is funded.
“Social care has been chronically under-funded for a generation and the rigours of Covid-19 has left it on its knees, struggling to provide care for our oldest and most vulnerable in care and nursing homes and in their own homes,” Mr Padgham added.
“Financial cutback after financial cutback has left the provision of care in tatters. We deserve better than we are being given at the moment and I think the urgency with which we received this response shows you that.”