MP reassured over care home procedures

The health of care home residents and staff have been prioritised during the coronavirus pandemic, Fylde MP Mark Menzies was told.

Mr Menzies received the response from health minister Helen Whately, after raising concerns over a Fylde care home which lost half of its residents to coronavirus.

He asked secretary of State Matt Hancock to intervene and ensure the home received testing kits as soon as possible. They arrived within days.

Mr Menzies then wrote to the Secretary of State and asked: “What steps the Government is taking to (a) help reduce the mortality figures in care homes and (b) ensure that residents receive appropriate treatment and palliative care during the covid-19 outbreak?”

Helen Whately, Minister of State in the Department of Health and Social Care, replied: “We are working closely with local authorities, the care sector and NHS England to understand the impact of COVID-19 on care homes and ensure everyone has access to the right care, in the most appropriate setting for their needs. We have provided extensive support and guidance to care homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every death from this virus is a tragedy and we are working around the clock to give the social care sector the equipment and support they need to tackle this outbreak. The safety of residents and staff is always a priority.

“On 15 May 2020 we published a care home support package which outlines the next phase of our response for care homes, using the latest domestic and international evidence brought together by Public Health England, and drawing on the insights of care providers. To support this, on 13 May we announced an additional £600 million to support providers through a new Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund.

“The adult social care action plan states that end of life care must continue to be planned in a holistic way involving social care, community nursing, general practice, occupational therapy. Provision of end of life care should reflect the individual patient’s needs and preferences, and where and how these can best be met. The Government, with the NHS, has published a new Standard Operating Procedure for the re-use of medicines in care homes and hospices. This will enable easier access to critical the end of life medication in these settings.

“This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we will continue to review our guidance and national support in line with the latest scientific advice.”

Mr Menzies said: “I am pleased to see there has been significant investment, and a new operating procedure has been implemented.

“This terrible virus is highly contagious and care and nursing homes are particularly vulnerable.

“Nursing and care home staff are working in the most difficult of situations; I know they have the full support and thanks of all the residents in Fylde.”