28 Nov 2021

Durkan welcomes £23m social care package but urges Health Minister to find solution beyond 2022

Mark H Durkan

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan: "I’m under no illusions that getting a grip on the social care crisis will be easy."

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has welcomed a £23 million domiciliary care and wider social care funding package announced by the Department of Health to help address the crisis within the sector for 2021/22.

Last week following news that over 1600 people and their families were awaiting home care packages across Northern Ireland, Mr Durkan called for urgent action to address the myriad of issues within the social care sector.

Health Minister, Robin Swann, subsequently announced the launch of the £23m care package to help employers in the social care sector to offer improved pay to their employees and to attract more staff.

However, while Mr Durkan welcomed the announcement, he stressed that the Minister should now look into how the social care sector can be supported in the long-term.

He said: “This is a welcome first step in tackling the crisis within the social care sector.

“Pre-pandemic it was evident there weren’t enough carers to meet demand. Yet this crisis is more than just a capacity issue there are a number of factors at play here; including lack of funding, the fact demand outstrips supply and failure to implement a pay uplift.

“I appreciate the £23 million investment will help improve staff wages and facilitate increased capacity in the here and now but the Health Minister alongside his Executive colleagues must work together to find a longer term solution beyond 2022.

“Yes, this investment is needed in the short term- however increased funding is nothing without transformation as well as effective workforce planning.

“I’m under no illusions that getting a grip on the social care crisis will be easy but I think small solutions such as implementing step-down facilities could make a big difference in alleviating pressures. This is the kind of thinking which needs to be explored in the time ahead.

“Each Executive has been told what needs to be done to save the health service here including addressing the problems within the social care; by Bengoa, Compton and countless expert reports – it’s high time they just did it.”

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