The government’s last minute extension of the Infection Control Fund (ICF) yesterday was “too little, too late”, the National Care Forum (NCF) has said.
In its announcement yesterday, the government gave an additional £388m for support on preventing infections and providing testing for the care sector.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Protecting care home staff and residents has been a priority throughout the pandemic and as we move into winter I am committed to ensuring they have the resources they need. This additional funding demonstrates how we will continue to support those delivering and receiving care.”
The announcement included the extension of designated settings and the associated indemnity scheme and the launch of a determination service for those self-certifying in relation to vaccine exemption.
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum, branded the 11th hour move, which was made on the day that ICF was due to expire, as “too little, too late”.
While welcoming the additional £388m, Vic said it represented a 23% reduction on equivalent funding provided in July and a 44% reduction on levels offered in April.
On the extension of designated settings for hospital discharges and associated indemnity schemes, Vic said: “Leaving the announcement to confirm the extension of these schemes until the night before both the funding and insurance runs out makes a mockery of the notion of a strategic, thought-through approach to ensuring that people receive the services they need in localities across the country.”
Commenting on the finalising of a permanent exemption service for vaccination, which followed the introduction of temporary self-certification on 15 September, Vic said: “This will mean that going forward, no one will be able to self-certify, and anyone who has done so to date will only have a 12 week period to either have their exemption confirmed, or to receive both doses of the vaccine in order to be able to be deployed within a care home.
“Whilst the certainty around exemptions is welcome, we continue to call for a delay to the implementation of mandatory vaccination scheme within care homes until the wider consultation across health and care has concluded.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO, Care England, said: “Whilst we are grateful that the government listened to Care England’s pleas for an extension to the Infection Control Fund we do not want to be too hasty in our response until we have unpicked the detail.
“For example, it would be useful to know the algorithm employed to calculate that the sector only needed £388 million to cover winter costs and when the DHSC Winter Plan will be delivered. The majority of provider related costs have been exacerbated by government imposed policies so it is only natural that we look for central funding to support them.”