Portsmouth City Council Cabinet Member for Health, wellbeing & social care, Councillor Matthew Winnington provides an update from his portfolio as care homes across the city work tirelessly to face the challenges of Covid19.
With every day that passes during this pandemic, it has become clearer and clearer what a crucial and valued role that carers play and how a weekly thank you just cannot convey our true level of gratitude. As the Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, I am working closely with the 3 council-run and 36 independent care and nursing homes in the city. who are an essential part of beating the COVID-19 virus and wanted to update you on a few related issues:
Care homes in Portsmouth are under a great deal of pressure and, as in France, Spain and Italy, care homes are accounting for a high proportion of deaths from COVID-19 but these are not included in the daily published national figures. It is crucial that we acknowledge the emotional and logistical stress that this is adding to carers in care homes as they carry on caring for other residents and support their families.
Care homes have been struggling with short supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect staff and residents. This was an issue that the City Council could see would get more and more critical as the weeks went on and the numbers increased, so PCC sourced some extra supplies and now has a strategic store of PPE to be able to help all care homes where their stocks have run low.
The government rules mean that care homes are expected to accept patients being discharged from hospital within 3 hours if there are beds available, even if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and they will be looked after in isolation. Whilst this is an understandable decision by the government to ensure that critical beds are available for those being admitted to hospital, it is even more crucial for care homes to have sufficient PPE to protect workers and other residents and we will continue to support homes in this.
Some supermarkets offer a priority time for shopping for people working in the NHS. The City Council is working with the supermarkets to allow care staff working in care homes to be allowed to access these times as well as NHS workers.
Finally, the Hampshire COVID-19 testing site will be located in Portsmouth. The City Council has offered a site in Tipner on the harbour side of the M275. This will offer drive-through testing (around 400 tests a day) for staff working in the NHS across the whole of Hampshire and we are trying to get care home staff included in this. This will mean that NHS and care staff who think they may have been infected can know with certainty if they can go back to work, or if they have the virus, that they self isolate and can be cared for when necessary.
Please do keep safe and well, and do let me know if there is anyone who needs support who is not getting it.
Cllr Matthew Winnington
Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing & Social Care