Town Hall chiefs urge government to spell out plans for testing of Barking and Dagenham key workers

Armed Forces Day plans have been shared by the council. Picture: Luke Acton

Armed Forces Day plans have been shared by the council. Picture: Luke Acton - Credit: Archant

The government has been urged to spell out what it is doing to make sure care workers can be tested for Covid-19.

Council leader Darren Rodwell. Picture: Jon King

Council leader Darren Rodwell. Picture: Jon King - Credit: Archant

Barking and Dagenham Council leader, Darren Rodwell, and his social care cabinet chief, Cllr Maureen Worby, told minister Helen Whatley MP in a letter dated May 29 that plans need to be put in place in case of further care home outbreaks.

“Not to do so would be a dereliction of duty to those in our community who are most in need,” the councillors’ letter states.

In it, the pair demand answers to a series of questions including who will foot the bill for the extra personal protective equipment (PPE) needed in care homes.

They add the council has a month’s worth of PPE left and would appreciate knowing if supplies will be increased if necessary. On funding, Cllrs Rodwell and Worby remind Ms Whatley of the government’s pledge to do whatever it takes to support local authorities, but raise concerns this has since been limited to not covering council spending that has gone “above and beyond” the call of duty.

Cllr Maureen Worby. Picture: LBBD

Cllr Maureen Worby. Picture: LBBD - Credit: Archant

“We need every penny we have been promised. Otherwise the government could be forcing local authorities like ours to ration potentially life-saving supplies,” they write.

They go on to demand details about what the government is doing to cover the costs of care when people leave hospitals.

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And on testing, the pair add it has been “a huge challenge” for the borough’s key workers to access tests.

The Department of Health and Social Care said its staff have been working flat out to support the social care sector.

The government’s action plan includes details of a 24/7 PPE helpline and a pledge not to put people discharged into nursing homes or needing social care at risk.

It states the NHS expects to have sufficient capacity to provide ongoing care to recovering Covid-19 patients. However, it wants local authorities to find “appropriate” accommodation for the “small number of people” needing social care who it anticipates will need to be discharged before the 14-day period from the onset of symptoms.

Care home staff and residents can contact their local health protection team to arrange tests following an outbreak.