By Bethany Hemsley
The Department of Health and Social Care has announced care providers in England will receive an extra £546 million to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the winter.
The Infection Control Fund, now extended until March 2021, will help care providers to pay self-isolating staff their full wages and reduce the transmission of infection by allowing care staff to work in just one care home.
The DHSC has also announced that personal protective equipment will be free for care homes until March 2021.
The total funding for infection control measures in care homes is now over £1.1bn.
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said: “I know just how hard social care staff have been working over the last six months to provide compassionate care for our loved ones and keep them safe in the face of this global threat. I am committed to ensuring the social care system has everything they need for the winter months ahead.
“We have set out additional funding to bolster infection prevention and protect our loved ones receiving care.”
Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum said: “The clock has been ticking on the government around a number of major announcements this week – the Infection Control funding is most welcome – but needs to be understood against a wider set of commitments for winter and any second wave.
“The well documented breakdowns around testing, rising rates of infection and increases in local lockdowns mean that we need these government plans to be shared today – preparation is critical and last minute announcements serve no one well.”
The GMB, the union for social care staff, has welcomed the extra funding but says full sick pay is crucial to combat COVID-19 in care.
The GMB claims some of the £600 million pledged by Ministers back in May is still to reach frontline staff in care homes across England.