…By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media.
Adult Social Care’s Terrible State of Pandemic Preparedness Revealed
In his testimony to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock highlighted the dire state of pandemic preparedness in adult social care.
He criticized the government for lacking even basic knowledge, such as the number of care homes in the UK when the coronavirus struck.
Hancock acknowledged his responsibility for ensuring adequate oversight but emphasized that the primary responsibility fell to local authorities.
However, he expressed frustration that, as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, he lacked the authority to take action.
Lack of Planning and Preparedness
By January 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care, headed by Matt Hancock, did not have a plan in place to identify the number of people in the care sector.
Hancock claimed that local authorities were formally responsible for pandemic preparedness in the sector, but he acknowledged his accountability as the Secretary of State.
He expressed concern over the significant problem posed by this division of responsibilities, particularly in a national crisis.
Furthermore, Hancock revealed that he had requested pandemic preparedness plans from local authorities but found only two plans, which were wholly inadequate.
Terrible State of Preparedness
When questioned about the adult social care sector’s preparedness for a pandemic, Hancock admitted that it was “terrible.”
The department lacked the means to determine whether the sector had appropriate plans in place or whether local authorities had sufficiently planned for such an event.
He acknowledged that the system for running adult social care was flawed and far from being in good shape when the pandemic struck.
Although efforts were underway to improve it, including pandemic planning, the sector faced significant challenges.
Lack of National Guidance and Data
Hancock revealed that there was no single national guidance for pandemic preparedness in the adult social care sector.
Only two local resilience forums had plans in place at the local authority level to address the impact of a catastrophic pandemic on the elderly.
The lack of even basic data, such as the number of operating care homes in the UK, posed a significant obstacle to effective planning.
Additionally, Hancock admitted that the department did not have the necessary policy levers to verify local authorities’ pandemic preparedness efforts.
Inadequate System and Difficult Position
The flawed system of running adult social care placed Hancock in an incredibly difficult position when the pandemic struck, particularly because it disproportionately affected older people.
Despite the hard work of everyone involved, both in the sector and the department, the early stages of the pandemic were challenging due to ongoing planning and the insufficient management systems in place for adult social care.
While reform work was underway, it remained incomplete, leaving the sector ill-prepared for the crisis.
In conclusion, Matt Hancock’s testimony before the UK Covid-19 Inquiry shed light on the woeful state of pandemic preparedness in adult social care.
The lack of planning, inadequate system, and absence of national guidance exposed the vulnerabilities of the sector.
Hancock’s revelations underscore the urgent need for comprehensive reform to ensure the effective management of adult social care in times of crisis.
Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn