|In response to the latest Government announcement on double-vaccinated frontline NHS and social care staff new self-isolation measure, ADASS responded with the following statement:
We support measures that can safely alleviate some of the pressure on our valued workforce and enable them to continue to provide life-sustaining essential care and support. We are hearing reports of care staff feeling enormous pressure to cover their colleagues’ shifts when they are isolating, working twice as hard to continue to provide care to those of us who need it. We are also hearing that care staff are leaving the sector at alarming rates due to better pay in retail, hospitality and tourism.
We welcome this new measure as an initial attempt to alleviate some of the pressure our frontline workforce has experienced and still experiences to date. The government needs to ensure that limitations and regulations for this new measure are stated clearly and with no room for doubt, defining exactly what exceptional circumstances and basic conditions must be met to allow some care workers to be permitted to attend work.
We have concerns that this announcement presents very significant risks. This change is being introduced at a time when community transmission rates are very high across the country – and rising rapidly. Care staff work with people who are the most vulnerable to Covid: older, disabled and mentally unwell people, among others. These are the very people, alongside care (and NHS) staff who have suffered most through the pandemic. Our priority must be to absolutely minimise further harm.
Our concerns are magnified by the fact that there has been an immediate change in policy with no prior warning, guidance and information about the change and how this can be introduced safely. The policy is intended to be applied on a case by case basis, and with a full risk assessment, but the absence of information and guidance raises the risk of blanket applications.
Guidance, together with the funding to support the policy, is needed urgently. Similarly, the need for fundamental changes to funding adult social care is urgent and essential.
Social care needs fixing. Care staff shortages, acute staff retention challenges, a low remunerated workforce, an avalanche of need rising from the pandemic – these underlying issues will only be addressed with a clear Government long-term plan to reform social care, one that gives local authorities sustainable funding, direction and capacity to truly transform lives.
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