WATCH: “Social care has not had the same priority as the NHS,” says Labour

Elliot Chappell

Liz Kendall has said that “social care has not had the same priority as the NHS” and highlighted the unequal treatment that the care sector has received in comparison to the NHS throughout the pandemic.

In parliament today, she described difficulties in getting personal protective equipment for care homes because it had been “requisitioned” for the NHS, and highlighted that a plan for social care was not provided until mid-April.

The shadow minister asked the Health Secretary Matt Hancock “how he squares all this with his claim that the government has thrown a ‘protective cloak’ around care homes right from the start”.

She also asked why guidance saying that care homes were “very unlikely to be infected” wasn’t withdrawn until March 12th when the chief medical officer warned about community transmission and the risk to the elderly on March 4th.

The organisation Care UK, which operates 122 care homes in the country, has revealed that it is currently dealing with at least least one case of coronavirus in 71% of the sites that it manages.

The ONS has recorded a death toll of 9,980 deaths in English and Welsh care homes up to May 8th. But as Keir Starmer has raised in PMQs, there are an additional 10,000 additional unexplained deaths for April alone when compared with previous years.

In her contribution in parliament this afternoon, Kendall highlighted that there have now been an additional 23,000 deaths in care homes in the first four months of 2020 than in the previous year.

Commenting on the latest figures from the ONS, published earlier today, the shadow health minister said: “Ministers claims to have formed a protective ring around care homes ring hollow when we see these numbers.

“These figures are still ringing alarm bells, as deaths involving Covid-19 as a percentage of all care home deaths continued to rise this week. The government is still being too slow in its response.

“MPs have received reports of complete confusion around care home testing, with the new portal only available for care homes for over 65s and the portal not accepting care homes who try to apply. Ministers must give social care the resources, support and attention it needs to stop the spread of this awful virus.”

The numbers released by the ONS this morning revealed that in the week leading up to May 8th, 42.4% of coronavirus-related deaths took place in care homes in England and Wales.

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