A major new report has called on the government to deliver on it manifesto commitment to fix the failing social care sector.
The report, Let’s do this: The promise of fixing social care, published by Health for Care – a coalition of 15 national health organisations, led by the NHS Confederation – warns that 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.
Central to the report are proposals for a better funding model and a restructured social care system.
The report’s authors lament 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, chair of the coalition and chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “When Boris Johnson delivered his first speech as Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street eighteen months ago, he promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’, but despite decades of delay, the Government has not made any visible or tangible progress on this issue.
“While addressing the immediate COVID emergency has rightly been the Government’s top priority, there is a real risk that allowing the current circumstances to excuse further delays to social care reform will mean that an opportunity is missed once again.
“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.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our country’s adult social care system has never been under such pressure with the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.
“We have provided billions of pounds of additional funding to the care sector, with further support being made available to respond to COVID-19, including regular testing of staff and residents, free PPE and prioritising staff and residents for vaccinations.
“Delivering a care system that is fit for the future remains a top priority and we will bring forward proposals for sustainable improvements to the system in due course.”