The government is under further fire over its preparedness for the care home COVID-19 pandemic after it was revealed that council chiefs issued a warning two years ago.
Information obtained by The Guardian revealed council social care directors called for plans for PPE supply, warning that demand could “rapidly outstrip supply”. The council directors also called for improved infection control and a system to recruit volunteers to support services.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Care Services (ADASS) said its research was carried out on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), adding: “We are not aware of whether government departments picked up on any of the recommendations set out.”
A DHSC spokesperson said: “As the public would expect, we regularly test our pandemic plans – allowing us to rapidly respond to this unprecedented crisis.
“Our planning helped prevent the NHS being overwhelmed and means we are past the peak of the virus.
“Together with the Chief Social Worker, we have developed an ethical framework to provide support to ongoing response planning and decision-making to ensure that ample consideration is given to a core set of ethical values and principles when organising and delivering social care for adults.”
The DHSC said the ADASS research had helped shape its response during the current pandemic, including the Care Act easements powers that enable local authorities, if necessary, to streamline processes and prioritise care for people with the most acute and pressing needs.
The government has faced increasing criticism that it failed to plan to protect care homes from the coronavirus. Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer grilled Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the issue during PM’s questions yesterday.
During the exchange, Mr Starmer drew attention to withdrawn government guidance issued in March that stated it was “very unlikely” the pandemic would impact care homes.
Earlier this week, The Guardian revealed a government report published three years ago warning that care homes were unprepared for a possible pandemic.