Care providers at the frontline in coronavirus response, says Hancock

Adult social care will be at the frontline in the government’s ongoing response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening (11 March), Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs he had invited the opposition to discuss the proposed emergency coronavirus bill in the morning (Thursday 12 March).

Planned legislation, to be introduced next week, will include measures to keep services running and support businesses.

Hancock told MPs: ‘Adult social care will be at the frontline of our response with social care providers looking after many of the most vulnerable in society. We’re working closely with the sector to make sure it is ready.’

At the time of writing, there had been more than 126,000 cases of the virus worldwide, with 459 in the UK. Globally, there had been 4,641 deaths as a result of Covid-19, eight in the UK.

The UK government is expected to step up its four-point response to the virus to the ‘delay’ phase, moving on from containment. Delay could mean restrictions on public gatherings.

To safeguard residents, care providers have already put in measures.

Barchester Healthcare has asked visitors, including family members and friends, to minimise visits to care homes and hospitals until further notice.

It said: ‘We have not taken this decision lightly, and appreciate that this may cause some discomfort, but feel that this is a necessary step to take.’

Anchor Hanover has temporarily stopped all non-essential visits to its care homes as a precaution.

In a statement it said: ‘Relatives and friends of residents will continue to be welcomed to our homes.

‘Essential visits such as from medical specialists or if buildings maintenance were necessary will also continue. Our contractors have reassured us that they are following all relevant guidance.

‘However, we are temporarily stopping all non-essential visits, for example from external organisations such as schools.’