By Kiro Evans, Local Democracy Reporter
Town hall leader warns London care homes being crippled by underfunding
London care services could “collapse” if they don’t get more funding, it has been warned.
Greenwich council Leader Dan Thorpe made his fears clear as he spoke up for the “chronically underfunded” sector in London.
Councillor Thorpe, who is also London Council’s executive member for health and care, worries the capital faces long-term hardship unless government get a grip of care funding.
He emphasised how important he believed the care sector to be in the fight against Covid.
Cllr Thorpe said: “With over 200 staff at my local hospital trust currently off sick due to Covid at our local hospital trust, my borough, Greenwich, has deployed 30 home care workers onto the wards, working side by side with doctors, nurses and hospital teams to keep the show on the road.
“But as well as the immediate priority of responding to Covid, the social care sector is grappling with enormous long-term challenges.
Some might assume that London’s relatively youthful population means its adult care services face fewer pressures than other parts of the country. This couldn’t be more wrong.
He added that the problems were playing out in “a system that has been chronically underfunded for many years”, leaving London councils “massively concerned”.
His strong warnings come amid stories from boroughs like Croydon, where special needs services were criticised by inspectors last month.
December also saw a care home in Catford censured by inspectors after a grandmother was beaten to death.
Cllr Thorpe added: “Social care is very much about people – individuals being supported by others to live their life as fully as possible.
However, the combination of low pay, growing instability in the care market and the high cost of living in the capital means London is struggling to recruit and retain care workers.
“It seems that social care will continue to languish in a state of permanent financial crisis, reliant on an irregular flow of emergency funding injections from the government to stop wholesale collapse.”
The council leader’s intervention comes as it was revealed hundreds of care homes in the UK were no longer admitting new residents.
MHA, one of the largest not for profit care providers in the UK, said 70 per cent of its homes have now closed their door to new residents because of Omicron.
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS providers, told the Guardian: “This isn’t good for patients as we know patient outcomes deteriorate if patients are medically fit to discharge but can’t leave hospital.”