The Welsh Government has been challenged to deliver urgent short-term funding for adult social care services.
In the first of two reports following an inquiry into the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, and its management, on health and social care in Wales, the Welsh Parliament Health, Social Care and Sport Committee also calls on the Welsh Government to deliver arrangements for statutory sick pay for social care workers in Wales required to self-isolate.
The committee commends health and social care workers for transforming services, arrangements and procedures in a very short period of time. Assembly members said: “They have shown enormous commitment and dedication in the most difficult of circumstances.”
The report concludes that the outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed serious weaknesses, including Wales’ ability to protect older people living in care homes. It also highlights the pressing need for better integration between the NHS and social care, and proper recognition for social care staff.
Assembly ministers conclude: “A second wave does not have to be inevitable if the lessons of the last few months are properly learned and fully applied. The ongoing fragility of the social care sector and the need for a longer-term solution is well documented.”
The focus of this first report is personal protective equipment; testing; shielding of vulnerable people; the Test, Trace, Protect Strategy; and financial implications for local government.
Future reports will consider matters such as returning to ‘normal services’ in the NHS and care sector.
- In an Assembly debate Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has called on the Welsh Government to make the £500 honorarium payment to care home staff tax free. He has also called for wage parity with the NHS. He said: “The care sector has been characterised by zero-hours contracts and low pay for decades. PayScale research estimates the hourly rate on average, for example, to be £8.19.
In response, Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said there were “constructive discussions” with the UK Treasury, outlining ways in which this payment could be made free of tax and national insurance. On the question of care home worker salaries, he said: “As a society, we have to be prepared to find the money to make this a sector that recognises the significance of the work that it does every single day.”