The Care Provider Alliance response to Coronavirus
01 May 2020
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Care Provider Alliance (CPA) has been working collaboratively with the government to make sure the adult social care sector has what it needs to keep many different groups of vulnerable people safe, including older people living in care homes. The sector consists of approximately 440,000 people in residential care and a further 700,000 people in the community using a variety of support services for people with learning disabilities, mental health problems, physical disabilities, and care and support in other types of care settings.
The spotlight on the sector in recent weeks has shown the vital and important role that social care plays in supporting whole communities to live independently or with the right level of support available.
Our efforts as a collective association of the 10 largest care associations in England has been concentrated on the same concerns the NHS has been focused on, particularly the protection of the workforce and the people we support. We have lobbied government at in-depth meetings since the 17th February 2020, many directly with the Care Minister. This has included sending letters to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson; Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock; Care Minister, Helen Whately, and 650 letters to local MPs to amplify our concerns on a national and constituent level.
In our most recent letter sent on 9th April 2020 we outlined critical concerns the sector was still facing in the fight against COVID-19 in care settings:
Personal protective equipment (PPE)§
Key concerns on the supply and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for care workers has put intense pressure on providers managing the spread of infection. Since February we have been campaigning to ensure ongoing supplies of PPE was made available to care providers.
Though there is still more to be done to make sure ongoing supply of PPE continues to be available to care providers, significant progress has now been made to ensure providers have access to this vital equipment in all care settings.
The CPA has lobbied for the removal of VAT from PPE products for many weeks and are delighted by the recent announcement from the Treasury to cut taxes on the cost of PPE to care providers for the next 3 months from 1 May to 31 July 2020. It is a welcome move to support providers who are contending with spiralling costs due to the increased need to use various forms of PPE to keep staff and people who require support safe, coupled with inflated PPE prices. However, the key issue remains that PPE must be available in the right quantities at the right time - and this is still an ongoing issue.
This move however doesn’t go far enough. More could be done to offset the spiralling cost of PPE and meet increased need. One solution could be full cost recovery backdated to the beginning of the pandemic. There are now 11 government approved wholesalers in the market and they are approaching their pricing structure on an ad-hoc basis – there is no consistency in pricing and we are seeing greatly inflated product prices by some. Therefore we would like to see all wholesale suppliers having to sell at the same rate as they do to the NHS, so that care providers are not disadvantaged or excluded from getting the best rates. For example, as seen in other sectors a price tariff on PPE would ensure that no one is disadvantaged when trying to source PPE at reasonable costs.
We asked the government to prioritise testing for social care workers and service users to help manage the spread of the virus. The delay in getting access to testing early on has had a huge impact, with many providers having to spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to find solutions.
Access to testing centres, mobile units and home testing kits have now been announced to include access to care providers and individuals, as the capacity for tests have increased. We are delighted that the government is now providing testing for more than its target of 100,000 tests, but echo NHS colleagues by calling for testing with purpose for the people we care for and our workforce.
We will continue to monitor the progress of COVID-19 testing within care settings to make sure providers, the care workforce and service users are prioritised in getting the access they need.
The financial resilience of adult social care providers is being severely tested. Managing COVID-19 has meant that care providers have seen an exponential increase to costs as a result of staff sick leave payments, backfilling staff vacancies, escalating PPE costs and emerging risks such as increases in the cost of indemnity insurance. The commissioners of adult social care services need to play their part by supporting care providers with fee rates that cover the true costs of the care provided so they can continue to deliver essential services to those who require care and support.
However, we understand that local councils are indebted with their own financial shortfalls and are themselves struggling to plug their own funding gaps and as result the £3.2bn announced by the Treasury, injected in to Local Authorities, is simply not reaching providers.
Data collected by our members as at 25 April 2020 shows 65% of all providers had received zero communication regarding uplift from local authority since the government announced its first funding pledge of said £1.6bn on the 19th March.
It is essential that care providers receive the financial injection announced by the government to enable them to provide safe, effective care while meeting the additional costs.
Our work continues to also focus on longer-term structural issues impacting care providers, to ensure resilience is built for the long-term.
Note to Editors:§
- The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) brings together the 10 main national associations which represent independent and voluntary adult social care providers in England. We work to represent the sector and ensure a coordinated response to the major issues that affect it.
- The Care Provider Alliance is an informal body with a rotating chair. Membership is of the representative associations with a national membership across the whole of England. However, some CPA members also represent services in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
- Together our members provide care and support to 1.2 million people through residential, home-based and community services, whether commissioned by local authorities and the NHS or privately purchased. Together our members employ over 620,000 care workers.
- Our members’ services include residential and nursing care, homecare, supported living and extra care housing, shared lives schemes, advocacy and telephone helplines. They support children, adults of working age and older people.
- See CPA’s information on coronavirus.
- For more information on the Care Provider Alliance visit our about us page