Significant and damaging surges of COVID-19 are predicted for at least the next 18 months, the DHSC has said.
This is one of the key reasons for the Government to extend provision of free PPE to health and care staff, possibly until April 2023.
In its response to a consultation on free PPE to the health and care sector, the DHSC states that given current case levels and the recent variant of concern, it expects PPE usage to remain at COVID-19 levels beyond March 2022, putting significant upward pressure on health and care costs in the next financial year.
In a survey, more than two in five care home providers said they had closed to new admissions as a result of staff shortages or increased agency costs as a result of COVID.
NCF CEO Vic Rayner OBE said: “The continual drip feed approach to funding, which as a result of bureaucracy fails to reach providers in a timely manner, is indicative of an approach that does not properly value the people who receive or deliver care.”
However, not all partners are in favour of the free PPE extension. In the consultation, 87 per cent of responding wholesalers (making up 4 per cent of the overall response rate) said that they were not in favour of free PPE being extended. Given reasons include:
- (in the case of wholesalers) they have already lost revenue and customers, and think DHSC should not continue to interfere with the market and should come up with alternative solutions instead
- the supply issues from the early days of the pandemic have been resolved and we should go back to pre-pandemic arrangements
In total, the consultation attracted 5,238 responses, 43 per cent of which were from social care.