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Carers express concern over Omicron variant

The Independent Care Group (ICG) is calling for more government support to protect the country’s oldest and most vulnerable from the new variant.

The ICG said that it was vital that the government now stepped in to help carers and care facilities tackle the ongoing pressure that the staffing crisis has placed on social care services, as well as meet the demand that winter and the ongoing staffing crisis has placed on social care services.

Almost £8 billion has been cut from social care since 2010. The ICG wants to see care facilities achieve the notice that they believe has been missing for years, as well as urgent support for care staff, including a staff bonus, to get more people into the sector to provide care. They also are asking of the government:

  • A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
  • NHS care and social care merged and managed locally or nationally
  • Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation
  • Dementia treated and funded like other high priority illnesses
  • A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
  • Proper pay, conditions and career structure for carers
  • Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT.

Visualization of the coronavirus causing COVID-19

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said they were already in the eye of the perfect storm, before this new variant: ‘Care settings have not eased down for a moment during Covid-19, not for a second, but they are doing so without any great support from the Government.

‘Now, as we see the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant and winter starts to bite hard, we need some support, particularly with the ongoing staffing crisis.

‘We need more boots on the ground and we need them today. Before the pandemic there were more than 100,000 care staff vacancies. The Government’s ‘no jab, no job’ policy has added many more thousands to that shortage – maybe as many as the 60,000 the Government itself feared.

‘As it has decided not to delay that in care settings – unlike in homecare and the NHS – we ask today, what are you going to do to help care and nursing homes get through winter, the new omicron Covid variant and the shortage of staff? We were already in the eye of a perfect storm, with exhausted and burnt-out carers battling to provide the best care they can as winter sets in; the impact of “no jab, no job” and an inability to recruit from overseas because of Brexit.

‘Now we have the new omicron variant on top, which means we have to be ever more vigilant, we must have some support if we are going to get through the next few months.’

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