Speech: Health and Social Care Secretary’s statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 15 April 2020

first_imgCoronavirus press conference: 15 April 2020Good afternoon and welcome to the daily coronavirus briefing.I am joined by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, Angela McLean.I want to start by thanking everyone who is staying at home, even in this sunshine. Together, we are slowing the spread of this virus. And I want to pay a special tribute today to Captain Tom Moore who, at the age of 99, has raised over £7 million so far for NHS charities by completing 100 laps of his garden. Captain Tom, you’re an inspiration to us all and we thank you.At the core of our plan is to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, so its ability to care for everybody that needs that care is always there and is never outmatched by the ability of the virus to do us harm. That is central to our plan and I’m glad to say that the spare capacity in critical care in the NHS today has reached a new record high of 2,657 beds.Expanding the NHS faster than the growth in demand has been a critical objective throughout this crisis. And it means that every single person who’s accessed NHS care has been able to get the very best available. At no point has the NHS been unable to offer care to people suffering from coronavirus. Now I know at the start of this crisis, some people said that would be impossible. But, so far, we’ve met this objective throughout and I want to thank all those involved for their part in this national effort.On the most recent figures, 313,769 people have now been tested for coronavirus. Of these, 98,476 people have tested positive. The number of patients in hospital with symptoms is now 19,529. 12,868 people have sadly died, an increase of 761.This all just goes to show why we cannot let up in our efforts. We cannot let go of the hard work that’s been done so far. This shared sacrifice, and I know it’s a sacrifice, is starting to work. But, we will not lift these measures until it is safe to do so. Everyone who stays at home is doing their bit, protecting the NHS and saving lives.But, while everyone else stays at home to save lives, our health and care workers go out to work to save lives. And, today, I want to focus on social care. I want to set out the next steps in our action plan for social care that we’re publishing today.From the moment of the emergence of coronavirus, we’ve known that some of the most vulnerable to this disease are in social care and we’ve been taking action right from the start.We first set out guidance back in February and today I can tell you what further steps we’re now able to make. Our goal throughout has been to protect residents and to support our 1.5 million colleagues who work in social care. We’ve injected an extra £1.6 billion and, as the Chancellor said, we will do whatever it takes.This is our plan.First and foremost, from the start, we’ve focused on the need to control the spread of infection in social care settings. Today, we’ve strengthened the rules, so that all care home residents who are discharged from hospital will be tested before being admitted into their care home. We’ll test all symptomatic care home residents. And, as I announced last Friday, we’ve introduced testing for all social care colleagues and members of their households who need a test.At the same time, we’re increasing again PPE supplies for social care. We’re creating a supply logistics and distribution network of unprecedented scale. Building on the PPE plan I set out on Friday, over the next 3 weeks we’ll continue priority drops to the Local Resilience Forums who distribute to the social care system according to local need, while we roll out our new online delivery system for social care settings. This will be integrated with the NHS supply chain central PPE logistical operations, with kit shipped directly to social care providers via the Royal Mail.All of this will contribute to slowing the spread of coronavirus within care homes.I want also to enhance support for our social care workforce. One of the things that I’m most proud of during this terrible crisis is that people have held health and social care workers in such high esteem. It’s not ‘clap for the NHS’, it’s ‘clap for our carers’. And to take this further, we’re today introducing a single brand for social care to symbolise the entire care profession. This is something I know so many people in the profession have called for.This badge will be a badge of honour in a very real sense, allowing social care staff proudly and publicly to identify themselves, just like NHS staff do with that famous blue and white logo.I know that many businesses will want to offer the same recognition and benefits as they do wonderfully to the NHS. We’ve asked the supermarkets to confirm that social care workers can have the same priority access and I know that the public value your work in care as much as I do. I also know that we need more people to return to social care or choose to serve for the first time.To make that happen, we’re strengthening our national recruitment campaign with the aim of recruiting tens of thousands more people into social care. And we will pay for the initial induction training. This is a job where you have the chance to make a difference to people’s lives every single day that you go to work.And I’ve seen, as I’m sure we’ve all seen, the amazing efforts of good social care. I’ve seen it with elderly members of my own family. I’ve seen the tenderness and the dedication with which people in social care support our loved ones at their time of greatest need.Everyone knows the job isn’t easy. Whether supporting people of working age, who are some of the most vulnerable in society, or supporting people and their families with dignity at the end of their lives. But I know what a fulfilling profession it is and I know that many will answer our call.There’s one other thing, and one other change, I want to make, which is giving people the right to say goodbye. One of the important things that care homes do is support people at the end of their life. Sadly, even in normal times, each month, about 10,000 people die in care homes. And our social care colleagues work incredibly hard to ensure support for people and dignity to people at the end of their lives.Wanting to be with someone you love at the end of their life is one of the deepest human instincts. And it’s a moment that will be with you forever. Done right, it can help those left behind to cope and it brings comfort to those who are dying. Coronavirus of course has made this much more difficult. and I’ve been really moved and upset at some of the heart-breaking stories of people dying without a loved one nearby.As a father of a 13-year-old myself, the reports of Ismail, dying aged 13 without a parent at his bedside, made me weep. And the sight of his coffin being lowered into a grave without a member of his family present was too awful. So, I’m pleased to say that, working with Public Health England, the care sector and many others, we’re introducing new procedures so we can limit the risk of infection, while, wherever possible, giving people’s loved ones the chance to say goodbye.And we’re making crystal clear that it is unacceptable for advanced care plans, including ‘do not attempt to resuscitate’ orders, to be applied in a blanket fashion to any group of people. This must always be a personalised process, as it always has been.I want to end by addressing carers directly. As much as the doctors, the nurses, the paramedics – you are on the frontline in this battle. I want to thank you for your courage and your commitment. For doing paid or unpaid, formal or informal, the work that you do, difficult, demanding, vitally necessary, and you do it with such love and care and attention.Taking on the extra shifts that might be needed to fill the gaps left by self-isolating colleagues, juggling your own caring responsibilities very often, providing dignity and comfort to people in some of the most difficult circumstances. We, as a nation, stand with you.And I say to everyone watching, you can stand with our carers too. By staying at home, to protect the NHS and protect social care, and save lives.last_img read more