Monday, 4 May 2020

Greens call for a new course on social care

Greens call for new course on social care
Image credit: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Creative Commons
The UK government this week included deaths from coronavirus taking place outside hospitals in its national figures for the first time. These figures therefore now include deaths that have taken place in care homes. This came as it was announced that there were 2,000 coronavirus deaths in UK care homes in a single week in April.
Prominent Greens were among the critics of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis in care. Jenny Jones – one of the two Green peers in the House of Lords – said that care homes had been neglected in the government’s coronavirus strategy. Writing in Left Foot Forward, Jones called for a “National Care Service” to tackle the crisis in the care sector. She wrote:
We need a national care service that recognises the vital role that carers are playing by paying them better.
We need a massive injection of cash into the private care home sector in order to keep it going for the coming year. We need to send out a clear message that the hospitals are open for everyone who needs them.
Finally, we need to recognise exceptional carers as the heroes they are. I think that the carers and managers who are taking turns self-isolating at care homes are amazing and such people need all the support we can give them.
The call for a National Care Service was also shared by Jamie Osborn – a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich. Also writing in Left Foot Forward, he criticised privatisation of the care service:
we have a National Health Service, funded by taxpayers as a universal right, but social care is privatised or, for those who have assets of less than £23,000, it is the responsibility of local councils.
He continued:
It’s time we had a properly-funded, universal, free-at-the-point of delivery, National Care Service.
The criticism of the status quo in social care, and the response to the coronavirus crisis within it wasn’t just confined to England though. Alison Johnstone – co-convener of the Scottish Green Party’s parliamentary group – hit out at the Scottish Government’s failure to increase testing in care homes.
Johnstone said:
The evidence shows clearly that the regular testing of care workers and hospital staff will help detect cases early, reduce the spread of the virus and give those workers the protection they deserve.
The Scottish Government’s continued refusal to commit to test these dedicated frontline health and care workers when there is significant additional testing capacity available is baffling and will severely hamper our ability to get a grip on this situation.


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