The social care sector has responded in support of a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on the Government's handling of the sector during COVID-19.
The report summarises that while the NHS was able to meet overall demand for COVID-19 treatment during the pandemic’s April peak, the same cannot be said for adult social care, arguing that prolonged inattention, funding cuts and delayed reforms have resulted in the Government's inability to provide the sector the support it needed during the pandemic.
The report also identifies key conclusions and recommendations for the Government's ongoing COVID-19 response, in light of concerns about managing a possible ‘second wave’ of the pandemic.
As for the sector, Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, responded to the PAC report by saying, 'We urge the Government to implement the recommendations in order that the nation is better prepared for future spikes and also to ensure that social care is recognised as an intrinsic part of the health and social care system. Health and social care are but two sides of the same coin and cannot be treated as separate entities.
'The adult social care sector has worked tirelessly to ensure the health and wellbeing of some of society’s most vulnerable. This report sets out some sensible actions which will help the long-term sustainability of the sector and Care England will be keeping a close eye on the implementation of the recommendations.'
Councillor Paulette Hamilton, Vice Chair of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said, 'Social care has been on the frontline throughout this crisis but this report’s conclusions show that those who use, work and volunteer in these vital services were not given as much priority as the NHS from the outset.
'We cannot and must not allow any of these mistakes to be repeated again, if the country is to experience a second wave of COVID-19. Social care deserves parity of esteem with the NHS.
'We urge the Government to act on the committee’s powerful recommendations as soon as possible, alongside the beginning of promised cross-party talks on the future of adult social care.'
Dr Layla McCay, a director at the NHS Confederation, said, 'This report makes difficult reading but at its heart is the need for social care reform. Politicians from all parties have ducked this for far too long – we need decisive action now to ensure social care services and staff have the support and resources they need.
'The report lays bare some of the gaps in staffing and capacity that made the challenge of responding to COVID-19 even more significant than it otherwise might have been. We know the NHS did not have enough intensive care beds at the start of the pandemic and we know this points to the need for extra capacity to be in place in future.
'We also back the recommendations for the Government to assess the capacity it needs for PPE and testing, also crucially how it will meet this, as this will be vital ahead of any second wave. And we share PAC’s concern about the frontline workers who have endured the strain and trauma of responding to COVID-19 for many months and believe there should be a review of the impact of COVID-19 on the NHS and social care workforce given the unprecedented pressure staff have been under.'