There should be an explicit “voice” for the care sector within Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru has said. This call is supported by a care home owner who lost 21 residents to COVID-19, and who says that the care service structure is “palpably ineffective, convoluted and wasteful.”
These calls are echoed by Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Minister for Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, who has called for parity between the health and social care sectors.
Noting that the “terrible cost” to Welsh care homes had been well publicised throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – from accessibility of PPE for care workers in the early stages, to care homes having to accept untested patients from hospital – the consequence, says Ms Jewell, was “nothing short of a national scandal.”
Plaid Cymru is calling for accountability for the sector to be clarified through a named official in government having lead responsibility for ensuring that the voice of the care sector is amplified, and for there to be greater political accountability. Under current arrangement the person in charge of social care is a deputy minister.
Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Shadow Minister for Health for Plaid Cymru, said:
“This pandemic has shown clearly that the care sector has been neglected for too long. I want to give parity to those two sectors – health and care – and indeed Plaid Cymru wants to establish a true National Health AND Care Service for Wales.
“But Government should immediately look to fill the gap that exists whereby care lacks the voice it needs at the heart of Government administration. Our NHS Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer have been prominent figures over these past few months. We need someone of equivalent status whose job it is to ensure that the care sector isn’t in any way forgotten again.”
Brian Rosenberg, Chairman of Tregwilym Lodge Ltd said:
“It is a fact that the current structure and system of delivering the Care Budget and the delivery of Care Services to some of the most vulnerable members of the community has been utterly broken for a long time.
“However the arrival of Covid-19 this year exposed in a horrific way the utter failure of the whole cumbersome and clumsy structure currently in operation. Failures in management of PPE, changes in directives from Welsh Government regarding testing, admissions and discharges from hospital and other policies have resulted in many unnecessary Covid-related deaths; 21 in Tregwilym Lodge alone!
“Whilst investment in public sector workers is clearly welcome, it is bitterly disappointing that social care remains overlooked and ignored by Government. The persistent restrictions on social care funding means that this is by default a largely minimum wage sector. As a sector caring for residents with high levels of complexity and acuity we need a robust career pathway and a voice at the highest level.
“Anyone looking at this structure could see how palpably ineffective, convoluted and wasteful it is.”