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NHS Confederation - PAC report highlights need for social care reform
Dr Layla McCay, a director at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, responded to the PAC report Readying the NHS and social care for the peak of COVID-19
“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. In the short term, this means extra capacity from the independent sector to work alongside the NHS to reduce the backlog of treatment that has built up.
“The extra beds the Nightingale hospitals provided were hugely important when we did not know whether the NHS would be able to cope with what was being asked of it.
“There is much in the report that the NHS will need to examine and learn from. But we think it is unfair to say NHS trusts systematically discharged patients who were known or suspected of having COVID-19 into care homes.
“This all happened at a fast-moving and complex moment, with patient care at the top of people’s minds. We will welcome a review but caution against scapegoating before we fully understand what happened, as it is not fair to the NHS staff who have worked so hard to deliver the best possible care in the most challenging period the system has ever faced.
“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.”
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