Social Care must no longer be health’s poor neighbour

A key lesson of the coronavirus pandemic is that social care should no longer be treated as the poorer neighbour of the NHS.

That’s according to Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston, who made the plea today during a Scottish Parliament debate on the future of the NHS.

Scotland’s care homes have been hit hard by Covid-19, with Mr Halcro Johnston involved in trying to secure quicker testing for residents and staff in care homes in his region with confirmed cases of the virus.

The Conservative MSP said “There are clearly lessons to be learned from the impacts of the pandemic. And we can look to social care, where some of the worst harm has been caused during this pandemic.

“Despite the integration of health and social care, Covid-19 has cast in a harsh light that social care still remains the poorer neighbour of the NHS.

“As we prepare for the future, we must ensure that appropriate resources and support are provided to our care homes, as the public must be confident that the residents, and their carers, have been made as safe as we can make them.”

Mr Halcro Johnston also criticised the Scottish Government for the decision to transfer untested patients from hospital to care homes during the early stages of the outbreak, a move which is believed to have caused a number of outbreaks across the country.

“We knew, early on, that – as with every similar virus – asymptomatic transmission was a risk.

“While the guidance to isolate based on symptoms was sensible, we knew that there were still risks while symptoms may not yet have manifested or been properly identified.

“Despite the hard work of the care home sector, it was less equipped and less prepared to deal with these issues”.