Social care must be a Government priority now Brexit is done


A campaigner says his New Year wish is for the reform of care of older and vulnerable people to be an urgent Government priority now that Brexit is done.

Mike Padgham, Chair of The Independent Care Group (ICG), says the arrival of the Oxford Independent Care Group vaccine is excellent and provides light at the end of the tunnel.

But he said that light could get even brighter if 2021 was the year social care got the reform it has long been promised.

Mr Padgham said: “2020 has been a dreadful year. Covid-19 has taken a dreadful toll and it is not done with us yet. We have seen a further 600 deaths reported for care settings earlier this month and sadly more are still to come.

“Our thoughts are with everyone who has lost a loved one this year.

“Thankfully, we do now have greater hope thanks to the addition of the Oxford vaccine to our armoury.

“This should mean that the mass rollout of the vaccinations can begin in earnest to vulnerable people, including those in care and nursing homes and the people who care for them, giving us a positive start to the New Year.

“And then what would make it a truly happy New Year would be for that to be followed swiftly by reform of the social care sector.

“Care providers proved during Covid-19 that they provide vital care to the most vulnerable and they have waited far too long for reform. 2021 must be the year it happens.

“Now that Brexit is done Boris Johnson must get social care done with the same sense of urgency. Nothing is impossible. No more excuses. He needs to tell the treasury this is going to happen. No more prevarication.

“Covid-19 exposed a fragile and vulnerable social care system, and it is only through the super-human efforts of its staff that we have pulled through. We cannot go on any longer with a system that is in crisis.

“Social care needs its Nye Bevan moment; someone to come along and grasp the issue, create a solution, and go down in history as the person who solved how to look after the country’s oldest and most vulnerable.

“If this is to be Boris Johnson, he has what is perhaps his last opportunity to deliver after so many broken promises on social care reform.

“The parallels with Bevan and his creation of the NHS are clear: the current system is failing a vulnerable section of society and needs reform. As Bevan did with healthcare, so the time is ripe for someone to create a system where the best in care can be provided to our oldest and most vulnerable.

“Not only would Boris go down in history as someone who succeeded where others have failed, but he would surely create a legacy for himself and be known for something very special indeed.”

The ICG points to 1.4m people going without the care they need, £8bn cut from social care budgets since 2010-11 and 100,000 vacancies in the care sector on any one day as evidence that social care needs urgent help.

Mr Padgham added: “Reform is long overdue; the Prime Minister has repeatedly promised it and it is time to deliver. Unless we get more funding into the sector to support care, ease the staffing shortages and improve the terms and conditions of the staff providing amazing care, the sector will continue to be extremely fragile.”

The ICG wants to see:

•          A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded

•          NHS care and social care to be merged and managed either locally or nationally

•          Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance

•          A guarantee that people receiving publicly funded care can receive it in their own home or close to where they live

•          A commissioner for older people and those with Learning Disabilities in England

•          A properly costed national rate for care fees linked to a national career pathway and salary framework for care staff

•          Dementia treated like other high priority illnesses, like cancer and heart disease

•          A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care

•          A cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges

•          Local Enterprise Partnerships to prioritise social care

•          A national scheme to ensure people save for their own care, as they do for a pension

•          A new model of social care delivery based on catchment areas – like GPs

•          Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT

•          CQC to have much greater powers to oversee all commissioning practises such as per minute billing and 15-minute visits

•          Less duplication of inspection between CQC and local authorities/CCGs

•          Greater recognition of the role of the independent sector and utilisation of its expertise in the commissioning and delivery of social care

•          Guaranteed equal partnership working through seats on Health and Well Being Boards, CCGs, and NHS

•          Giving providers and CQC greater flexibility in delivering services

•          Providing telemedicine incentives

•          Allowing nurses and social care staff from overseas to work in the U.K. including lowering the salary cap

•          Training and bursaries to encourage recruitment/end the shortage of nurses

•          Long term measures to integrate older and younger people in care settings and change the perception of the generations

•          Investment in research and development into new models of social care delivery

•          Funding to help upgrade older care homes to maintain a range of choice for the public and investment in domiciliary care

•          Funding for leadership training.

● Today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 602 people died from Covid-19 in care and nursing homes in the week up to 18th December, up from 532 the previous week and 544 the week before that. Some 19,568 people died from Covid19 in care and nursing homes between 28th December 2019 and 18th December.

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