SIR: Having just spent several hours wading through the final report of the “COVID-19 Social Care Support Taskforce” one wonders how those working in the service will ever find time to read it – let alone implement all 42 recommendations which are designed to make bad practice safer!

Care homes are not, and were never intended to be, hospitals. The residents are just as entitled to hospital care, if that is what is needed, as are the rest of us. That so many have been left to die in care homes, rather than being admitted to hospital, and thereby denied the benefit of oxygen, ventilators and intensive care which might have saved their lives is the real concern. The minute a resident exhibited symptoms they should have been tested and if positive admitted to hospital. The discharge of older people from hospital to care homes, without testing, in order to free up beds for coronavirus patients may also have spread the virus. That not all older people have an "assessment of need" and "verification of wishes" by a social worker prior to admission to a care home whether or not they are self-funders, as envisaged by the 1990 National Health Service and Community Care Act, is a real concern. Admissions to care homes should have been stopped from the time relatives were stopped from visiting.

All staff in care homes and those working in home care should have worn masks from day one of the pandemic.

There are real concerns about the under-funding of the care sector which go back to the Griffiths Reforms of the 1990s and the transfer of what had been an open-ended entitlement to local authorities as a “cash limited allocation”, the introduction of the purchaser provider split, and local authority social service departments fixing their contract price for care homes in the private sector below the cost of their in-house provision – so much for the “level playing field”!

Chris J Perry MA CSW,

Former director of social services South Glamorgan County Council,

Former director of Age Concern Hampshire,

Former non-executive director Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust,

Southampton Road,