Havering’s Labour party leader Councillor Keith Darvill has written in the Havering Daily today.
Day by day, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is changing people’s lives. We, as elected opposition councillors, need to ensure that the council is doing its best to ensure the safety of all Havering residents at this critical time. That is our role. We understand the challenges and difficult decisions that now have to be made by the Tory council but we need to be able to scrutinise and question decisions so that the best outcomes are implemented for everyone’s benefit.
Havering has 60 plus residential care homes and an older than average population. These demographic factors are not new but have been intensified by the chronic underfunding of the health and social care sector for the last ten years. We, as Labour councillors, have been lobbying the government for years to increase the funding.
Now, the situation in Havering care homes is at a critical stage. Those serving our elderly and vulnerable residents put their own lives at risk because of a lack of protective equipment. They are poorly paid with little job security. We hear of people being released from hospital back into care homes without being tested, putting staff and other residents at risk.
And now information is being collated at a national level that is stoking our worst fears.
1. The Guardian and Telegraph have reported that major care operators have seen a steep rise in deaths and infections.
2. The soaring cost of PPE could bankrupt care homes. The Head of the National Care Association says that some care homes have to pay as much as £8,500 a week to keep staff and residents safe.
3. Care home residents have been told that they are unlikely to be offered ventilators if they are admitted to hospital with Coronavirus.
We in the Labour Party want to support the government and our council in its measures to fight this pandemic. However, as local councillors we need to have much more opportunity to ask questions. A desultory one-hour report back is not adequate. The group leaders’ one-hour slot is too short and limits probing questions.
All Havering councillors need to have full access to the true facts about the situation in our care homes and be able to ask questions which our casework has thrown up.
We want to serve our community at this time of uncertainty. To do that, we need full access to accurate and current information.