A £388m extension to Covid-19 pandemic funding for adult social care this winter is ‘too little, too late’, an umbrella body has warned.
The cash injection – announced by the Government last Thursday – was dubbed ‘last gasp’ by membership organisation the National Care Forum (NCF), which said it does not give providers enough time to plan or sustain services. It came the same day existing pandemic funding ran out.
The extension to the Infection Control Fund (ICF) includes £25m to support care workers to access Covid-19 and flu vaccines, £237m for infection control measures and £126m for testing costs.
But the NCF noted the ‘last minute’ funding is a drop compared to previous ICF commitments. In April, £341m was provided until the end of June and £251m was committed in July until the end of September. Yet the current funding of £388m stretches across a six-month period.
NCF CEO Vic Rayner said: ‘For care services, nothing has changed in terms of the areas that the fund is intended to support. The testing regime remains, the strictures around visiting are still in place, there are extra conditions around vaccination ongoing with more on the horizon.
‘Isolation for staff working with clinically vulnerable people is still required and infection control measures including the restriction of staff movement remain a firm requirement,’ she added.
Care homes are also facing an additional £100m of costs to implement the Government’s mandatory vaccination policy for care home staff, which comes into force on 11 November, she pointed out. This figure was estimated by the Government in July.
In the same announcement, the Government also revealed that care home staff or professionals visiting a care home must provide apply for a medical exemption if they do not have a Covid-19 vaccination from 11 November. Each application will be clinically reviewed.
Meanwhile, Clare Jacobs, RCN national officer for independent health and social care services, argued the funding announcement should have covered full occupational sick pay for staff.
‘Without sick pay, staff who are unwell often feel forced to attend work. This risks spreading infection. We expect employers to look after their staff,’ she said.