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Kirklees care homes 'on the brink of collapse'

Councillor Mus Khan, Kirklees Council

A senior figure on Kirklees Council says even millions of pounds from the government probably won't fix the problem.

Some care homes in Kirklees are teetering on the brink of financial collapse as they struggle to cope with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

That’s the grim warning from one senior figure on Kirklees Council who said millions of pounds in Government funding was unlikely to fix the problem.

Councillor Mus Khan, who is the council’s Cabinet member for Health and Social Care, said Government guidance to care homes had been “led by capacity issues rather than science” and “rapidly changed from week to week.”

She said the situation in care homes was “dire”.

Cllr Khan (Lab, Dalton) tore into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and said the money was not enough to fix the problem.

Speaking at successive Cabinet meetings on May 21 and 26 she said the Government needed to restore faith in the residential care sector.

Sharply criticising both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May she said the failure of their administrations to tackle the adult social care sector was being borne out by the present health emergency.

She revealed the council had increased its capacity in the care sector by buying 100 residential care beds and that the authority had expanded its recruitment drive to reduce the use of costly agency workers.

Moreover the council had pumped an extra 10% into funding care homes.

But she warned that people who had tested positive for coronavirus were still being released back into the system – and discharged into care homes.

She accepted that not all care homes were able to shield or isolate people, or manage infections, in the same way.

In a blistering attack on the Government she said:

“The funding is welcomed.

“However it’s not enough to place a protective ring around the care homes and ensure that they have shielded.

“And the reason for this is that the care sector was under pressure even before the pandemic and rising costs due to staff isolation or sickness has meant an increase in the use of agency staff.

“Care homes are under increasing pressure due to the rising costs of PPE. Care homes are reporting that some companies have hiked prices [by] up to 1,000%.

“A number of care homes are now holding significant vacancies due to families’ growing fears of Covid-19 infection.

“Some families have removed their loved ones from care homes to shield them at home and this troubling financial reality for some providers is that they may now face a shortfall in people using their services due to increased deaths and not being able to admit new admissions.

“As ever the Government response has been too little, too late.

“Had the Government from the onset of this crisis given care homes consistent guidance led by science rather than capacity issues in terms of managing infections of Covid-19, adequate supply of PPE and testing of all residents and staff regardless of whether they’d displayed symptoms or not, some families would not now be mourning the tragic loss of their loved ones.

“And people would not be in fear of placing their loved ones in care homes.

“Three weeks ago it was announced in the House of Commons that testing would be available for all in care homes but care homes are telling us that they still can’t get tested and of course we are helping wherever we can and much as we can.

“As a result of this failure on behalf of Government some of our care homes are very close to financial collapse.

“The Government needs to restore faith in the residential care sector by providing adequate funding to shield them but also halt the discharge of patients with positive Covid-19 into care homes to restore public confidence in the sector and save lives.”

The council will receive £4.5m of the £600m pot available through the Government’s Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund.

Three-quarters will go to 129 care homes in the borough that have registered beds with the Care Quality Commission as per Government guidelines.

The remainder will be used for infection control measures.

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