Yvonne Fovargue MP: The country needs a national reset
How on earth did it get to this? We are now at a critical moment – Covid-19 is spreading in all areas of the UK.
Nobody should be under any illusion about where this is heading, or of the need for decisive action.
The UK Government has lost control of the virus, lost control of testing and lost control of the message.
Ministers are no longer following scientific advice. And the measures it has set out in recent weeks are harming the economy and failing to suppress the virus.
Another course is needed. We need a national reset. That’s why, Keir Starmer called for a national circuit breaker, in line with scientific advice to bring infections down.
Boris Johnson rejected this, only to now announce the same thing. That delay in introducing restrictions will come at an economic cost and a human cost.
The Prime Minister knows his latest restrictions won’t be enough. He knows he will have to impose harsher restrictions.
We now need to see an urgent reset to drive down infections to save lives and protect the NHS.
Without action, the Government risks sleepwalking into the same devastating situation we faced earlier in the year.
The social care sector has been under immense strain throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, and although daily death and infection rates are now falling, the lockdown and impact of the virus has not yet ended for social care.
The Government has rightly said that the NHS will get ‘whatever it takes’ to deal with Covid- 19, and the same must be true for social care.
Weekly testing of care home residents and staff is critical to saving lives, yet there have been repeated delays to the roll out of testing and care homes have waited days for their results.
Reports that infections rates are beginning to rise in care homes once more are a matter of serious concern.
Getting on top of challenges faced by social care ahead of winter is vital – we cannot afford for action to protect care homes and other services to be as slow and chaotic as it was at the start of this pandemic.
There are also serious concerns about vacancies in the care sector during the months ahead, particularly if there is a second wave of the virus as care providers prepare for winter.
The Government must provide an immediate plan to better support care workers in all settings, including the 70,000 who are employed via direct payments and the nine million unpaid carers.
Labour has repeatedly called for additional resources for social care, so we welcome the news that the Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund will continue.
But the real test of this plan is whether the Government delivers on weekly testing of all care staff - first promised in July but still not delivered, with serious concerns about delays in getting results back.
Ensuring families can visit their loved ones is also critical, as without this care home residents can end up fading fast.
Ministers tell us the NHS has ‘coped’ through the Covid-19 peak but that was on the back of cancelled operations, delayed scans and diagnostic tests.
It’s now urgent ministers bring forward a plan to tackle the backlog in non Covid-19 care.