Health Secretary announces further £341m for infection control and testing support in social care

Key funding described as a “lifeline” for the social care sector during the coronavirus pandemic has been extended, the Government has announced.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the sector will receive a further £341 million to help with the costs of infection prevention control and testing.

This, he said, will help ensure care home visits “are safe for everyone”.

Mr Hancock told the House of Commons: “This takes the total infection control fund and testing support to more than £1.6 billion, alongside the free PPE (personal protective equipment) that care homes receive.”

It is understood this represents a three-month extension from April 1.

The original funding was in place until March 31, and care groups had warned the sector would be put under “severe pressure” if it was not extended.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, had warned deaths of care home residents with coronavirus could increase, providers may stop operating and visiting could be curtailed.

Other groups said indoor visits, which have only just been permitted in care homes in England, would be put in jeopardy.

Prof Green (pictured) said: “This extension of funding represents a lifeline for care providers.

“We are pleased that the Government has heeded the calls of Care England as without such funding the sector would be in jeopardy.

“Care staff across the length and breadth of England continue to implement enhanced infection control procedures to keep residents safe.”

He added there is still no sign of a plan for the long-term reform and sustainability of the sector.

The Independent Care Group, which represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, welcomed the extra funding.

Chairman Mike Padgham said: “As we go forward providers on the front line are still facing rising costs due to the pandemic and extra costs to enable visiting to take place, through extra staffing needs, for example.

“This is likely to increase as we go forward, especially if the Government announces that more than the current one visitor be allowed.

“We need to see the detail and understand exactly what this funding is to be spent on.

“My fear is that by the time this money reaches the front line, where it is needed, it might not be enough to give care providers the help they need.

“My biggest desire is to see the long-term plan for long-overdue reform of the sector which we have been promised for so long.”

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