The director of ADASS has warned of the ‘deep concern’ raised by confusion over the £600m Infection Control fund recently announced by the UK Government.
James Bullion, director of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), has written a letter to the Minister of the Department of Health and Social Care, Helen Whately, warning of the deep concern raised over the confusion caused by the Infection Control fund, stating that ‘many of our concerns are echoed by the very providers that this scheme was set up to support.’
Personal Protective Equipment in care homes
Bullion highlights that ADASS has shared evidence with the Department of Social Care that underlines the additional costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and says it has been made clear that the funding available ‘is insufficient to cover the real costs being faced by providers and local authorities.’
One of the main concerns raised is the cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Mr Bullion highlights that the funding is for infection control but that it cannot be used to purchase PPE. He states in the letter: ‘We know from the evidence we have gathered the scale of inflated pricing for PPE being faced by providers and local authorities and the real cost of this to local councils. PPE remains the biggest single issue for many local areas.’
Funding for social care
According to the director, the conditions attached to the Infection Control fund are restrictive, which will make it difficult to justify the expenditure, potentially resulting in large amounts of money unspent. He states: ‘There are also significant issues in relation to home care, with the discretion to spend 25% in domiciliary care, extra care and supported living. The implication that this might be sufficient is misleading.’
He called for consideration of the real costs in both the short- and long-term funding and reform of social care, ‘We have already stated publicly that they need the tools to continue that job – including resources, PPE and testing. Adult social care must never again be considered as an afterthought to the NHS.’
Mr Bullion said: “Whilst additional funding for infection control in social care is welcome, what is proposed is confused and unnecessarily bureaucratic. It makes it too difficult for providers to claim expenditure and is impossible for local authorities to deliver within the required timescales.
“The priority must be to keep people safe. This risks complicating things and damaging crucial local relationships that are vital to ensuring people get the care and support they need.”
The letter can be read on the ADASS website.