Coronavirus: Matt Hancock says extra cash will make care homes 'a place of sanctuary this winter'

The health secretary has announced more than half a billion pounds extra funding for care providers in England to make them a "place of sanctuary this winter", ahead of a looming new wave of coronavirus.

So far more than 20,000 care home residents have died with coronavirus, and Matt Hancock said the government will do "whatever is humanly possible" to protect them going forward.

The cash was announced after Boris Johnson warned a spike in cases would “lead to mortality”.

He said a six month extension of the Infection Control Fund will help pay staff full wages when they are self-isolating and ensure carers work in only one care home, reducing the risk of spreading the infection.

The fund was set up in May but has now been extended until March 2021 and will offer the sector an extra £546 million ahead of an anticipated second wave of the virus over the winter months.

  • Matt Hancock announces extra cash for care providers:

Health Secretary Hancock said the money will "reduce the infections in social care, so that we can support staff if they need to self isolate and so of course we need to have the proper protective equipment in social care".

He added: "We're determined to prepare for winter with all the challenges that it brings."

The cash boost comes amid a a significant rise in the spread of coronavirus, with the prime minister warning about the rate of cases among the over-80s doubling in just days.

He said the government was "concerned about the rates of infection in care homes".

"We must expect those infections proportionately to lead to mortality," Mr Johnson added.

The Government said that total funding for infection control measures in care homes is now more than £1.1 billion and underlines its commitment to ensure adult social care has the resources it needs to keep residents and staff safe.

It comes as stricter rules are expected to be put in place in the North East of England, following a rise in the number of coronavirus infections.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the new funding would bring "peace of mind" to many in the sector.

"From the very beginning we have done everything possible to make sure our social care system is protected and has the resources it needs to keep our brilliant workforce and those they care for safe," he said.

"This new funding of over half a billion pounds will support not only care home residents, but also some of the most vulnerable in society living at home and in supported living.

"I know this will give peace of mind to so many, and we will set out further detail in our Adult Social Care Winter Plan this week."

Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson have announced extra funding for care homes to protect them from coronavirus in the winter. Credit: PA

Minister for Care Helen Whately said the additional funding is designed to "bolster infection prevention and protect our loved ones receiving care".

The announcement comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told The Sun care home workers would be given financial support to ensure they have sufficient personal protective equipment and are able to minimise their use of public transport.

Mr Johnson told the paper: "Be in no doubt we're going to do absolutely all we can to stop the spread in care homes.

"And I'm afraid it's an incredibly difficult thing, but we are going to have to place some restrictions on people, visitors being able to go into care homes."