Call for drastic overhaul of “fragile and exposed” UK care system

The government urgently needs to deliver on its manifesto commitment to fix the failing social care sector, say UK care and health leaders.

Launching its new report, Let’s do this: The promise of fixing social care, the Health for Care coalition says the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into stark relief the failings and underlying weaknesses of the social care system, which have left health and social care services struggling to cope.

Health for Care – a coalition of 15 national health organisations, led by the NHS Confederation – hs come up with proposals for a better funding model and a restructured social care system and highlight the ongoing repercussions of the failure to plan properly for vital services and the dramatic falls in spending on social care in England, with figures showing a 12|% decrease per person over the decade to 2018/19.

They also warn of very high staff vacancy numbers, with 112,000 social care posts left empty, and very low pay, status and career opportunities.

Danny Mortimer

Danny Mortimer, chair of the coalition and chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The NHS and social care are sister services and have been supporting one another and working closely together throughout the pandemic. However, when one service does not work, the other suffers, and the past few months have brutally exposed how fragile and under-resourced England’s social care system has become.

“The Government must now deliver legislative proposals to fix social care, once and for all. A well-funded and good quality social care sector is fundamental to a healthy nation and a well-performing NHS. Without social care reform, with a clear and transparent timetable for delivery, backed up by a long-term funding settlement, not only will the NHS and social care continue to run at near breaking point through the pandemic, but they will struggle to address the long-term health and social care issues the crisis leaves in its wake.”

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said that the social care system is “simply not set up to meet people’s needs today.”

“More people are living for longer with conditions that can’t be treated by the NHS, and they rightly expect care and support to allow them to continue to live well and play an active role in society. The current system creates an enormous disparity between people with some health conditions who are treated for free on the NHS, and others who struggle to access care at all and are charged when they do. A clear, equitable offer that people can count on to provide care and support when they are in need is absolutely imperative,” she said.

Date Published: February 3, 2021