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Essex County Council to be scrutinised over care sector concerns after Tye Green Lodge deaths

Covid-19 / Wed 22nd Apr 2020 at 09:08am

By Local Democracy Reporter

ESSEX Labour councillors will hold a one to one meeting with the man in charge of social care in the county in the wake of one care home reporting a high number of deaths in just a few weeks.

Despite the meeting being behind closed doors, Labour group leader Councillor Ivan Henderson said it will be made clear that any information gathered in the meeting with Cllr John Spence will have to be allowed to be made public.

Cllr Henderson said there had to be detailed scrutiny of PPE allocation in care homes, the testing process and staff mental wellbeing to ensure Essex County Council (ECC) is doing all it can to keep residents and care workers safe.

The call comes after it was revealed that 17 care home residents and a staff member died in the space of a few weeks.

Tye Green Lodge in Harlow said six residents died in hospital, but a lack of testing meant “it was not clear” if the others had Covid-19.

Quantum Care, which operates the site, called on the government to increase coronavirus testing at care homes.

Cllr Henderson said: “I will be making Cllr Spence aware we still do believe this is a public interest issue and the public do deserve to know what is actually happening across the care sector in all those areas we have concerns about.

“That includes the staff and the people who are being supported in care and the testing.

“I see there is evidence they have started testing care workers, but which care homes are they happening in and how many?”

The number of daily coronavirus deaths in the UK dropped to its lowest level in two weeks, as 463 new fatalities were reported on Monday.

With signs the curve could be flattening, it brings Britain’s death toll to 16,535.

Cllr Henderson added: “My thoughts go out to all those who have lost loved ones within the NHS and the care sector and NHS workers and care workers.

“We are concerned about the care workers themselves and the enormous pressure they are under. What support are they getting and have they got enough resources?

“Are there enough care workers out there?

“He is going to have to understand we are going to have to share information, whether over testing, PPE, over those care workers and the pressure they are under and how many care homes in Essex are having to deal with the virus inside those care homes.”

ECC has earmarked £2 million to purchase around two weeks’ supply of PPE on behalf of it and its providers.

It is hoped that this will provide sufficient resources to cover the period until the ongoing issues with national suppliers are resolved.

Indications are that supply chains are now beginning to recover, and the two-week supply will be sufficient bridging provision.

The government has come under increasing attack over the failure to provide proper PPE equipment to health workers, with some reports of health workers buying their own from DIY stores.

The situation has got so bad that over the last week ECC has been running a Facebook donation page where in excess of 300 local companies and individuals have offered access to their PPE which is not being used.

An open letter to ECC from Labour councillors Ivan Henderson, Allan Davies, Pat Reid, Lee Scordis, Julie Young and Davie Harris, said: “Care workers in care homes are some of the most underpaid in the UK, but they are doing one of the most vital jobs – looking after the most vulnerable.

“We want ECC to offer the strongest support it can to our key workers across the county and in keeping the most vulnerable safe at this time of national crisis.”

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