This was **so obvious** at the time. Why was such a patently dangerous policy made and complied with?
I wrote the below on 19 April 2020 for a newspaper after raising in a Cornwall Council meeting that patients were going into Cornish care homes from hospital without testing/knowledge of test results and why on Earth was it happening.
The care sector was let down so badly by the Government during covid. We must start valuing care and carers as we do the NHS. We’re 2 years on from the article I wrote now and I don’t feel that things are any better. ————————————————————— “The care sector has proven extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.
Once the virus enters a care home, or a domestic carer who travels to people’s homes to look after them becomes infected or is looking after someone who is infected, it is extremely difficult to stop it spreading.
This is exacerbated by the way that social care has for years been the poor relation to healthcare, and has been treated as such in this pandemic. There was initially no government supply of protective equipment for care workers. Private care homes had to find their own suppliers. Councils found that initial supplies of PPE were all for the NHS. There was none for social care. It is still coming too slowly, and Cornwall Council has been amongst the bodies urging the Government to speed up delivery and is desperately looking for other suppliers.
Very few people have been tested for the disease in care homes. Even as recently as last week, care workers in Cornwall could only be tested for Covid19 if they were suffering symptoms and got into their cars and drove to a testing centre in Plymouth.
Patients coming out of hospital and going back into care homes have also not been routinely tested for Covid19. The Health Secretary did not commit to more testing in care settings until Wednesday 15th April. I was shocked it was not happening already.
At the time of writing, Covid19 has been found in nine care homes in Cornwall, and an undisclosed number of people have died. On Saturday, the National Care Forum, an organisation of care providers, said that they thought 4040 people may have died of Covid19 within UK residential and nursing services before 13th April. They have called for a metaphorical ‘ring of steel’ to be built around our vulnerable care sector consisting of PPE, routine testing, professional advice and access to extra staff. In Cornwall, 400 people have already applied to be carers under the Proud to Care scheme. But many more are needed.
Keir Starmer, new leader of the Labour Party, added his voice to the calls for more PPE and testing in care homes. He also called for daily figures of care home deaths, in the same way we have them for hospital deaths, so that we know how fast the virus is spreading and the scale of the response needed.
We must learn lessons from this pandemic for the future.
A new deal for social care. Equality with the healthcare sector. Better pay, working conditions, training and giving social care the status it deserves. We now know that care workers are keyworkers, fundamental to maintaining a civilised society that looks after our vulnerable citizens with dignity and respect.
The Labour Party started planning for a better future during the Second World War by adopting the Beveridge Report. That formed the foundations of our Welfare State and led to the NHS being set up in 1948. That planning during wartime wasn’t a distraction, it was an inspiration. The same applies now. We know we can’t carry on like this. The carers and the cared for deserve much more. When we get through this, let’s make sure it happens.”