Social care sector crucial to nation's response to the coronavirus

Sue Ryder, the national healthcare charity, is warning that overlooking the social care and independent hospice sector could have serious repercussions; ahead of tomorrow’s Health and Social Care Select Committee Inquiry into how prepared the UK is to deal with the impact of the coronavirus global pandemic.

The charity which runs hospices as well as services for people with neurological conditions, say they need urgent access to personal protective equipment and funding in order to play its part alongside the NHS in the fast-evolving response to the coronavirus.

Heidi Travis, Chief Executive of Sue Ryder, said:

“The social care and hospice sector are critical to the nation's response to coronavirus. Not only are we being asked to plan how we could free up beds and provide care to groups not usually supported by the charity if necessary; but we are already providing critical care to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“Currently we are in urgent need of essential personal protective equipment as a priority, quick access to emergency funds and the means to test our healthcare staff for the coronavirus, to reduce unnecessary staff shortages.

“Despite our best efforts with our suppliers and with local resilience groups, access to supplies including hand sanitiser, fluid-repellent masks and gloves is not currently possible and there is little to no information on when this situation will be addressed.

“New guidance from NHS England for social care states that the Covid-19 Resilience Fund will be used to fund pressures, but we need information on how to access this as soon as possible. Without quick access to funding, our services will struggle to meet the costs of staffing and equipment in order to support the health and social care sector cope with the coronavirus.

“It is dangerous to overlook the social care and hospice sector so we are hopeful that the Health and Social Care Select Committee session on Tuesday will answer these questions. Now is the time to put plans in place, so we have clarity and be better prepared for what is ahead.”