Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Health how many additional staff would be required to be employed by each Health and Social Care Trust to fully clear the current waiting lists for domiciliary care packages.
Minister of Health: The Department does not hold information on how many additional staff would be required to clear the current waiting list for domiciliary care packages. Care is provided by a mix of Trusts and independent providers and whilst Trusts endeavour to provide care packages where they are required, ultimately there are a range of factors which can impact upon this delivery. Staffing is only one element of this.
Work has been ongoing to deliver additional funding to the independent sector, both in-year and on a recurrent basis, to try to alleviate the ongoing pressures on the system. The £23m funding package which I approved in November 2021, was intended to stabilise and enhance capacity within the independent domiciliary care and wider social care sector. This additional funding secured an increase in the hours of domiciliary care delivered by the independent sector and helped to stabilise the care sector during a very difficult period. Despite a very challenging financial context I have ensured that funding was secured to ensure this uplift was carried through to the current year and has been made recurrent.
The number of people waiting for a domiciliary care package fluctuates on an ongoing basis and although the overall demand for care packages continues to increase, I am confident that the funding to date has assisted in stabilising the independent sector, and has increased capacity of providers to deliver care packages.
Officials from my Department continue to engage with Trust colleagues and independent sector providers on an ongoing basis, to maintain and support service provision.