The chief executive of the NHS Confederation has said 2019 needs to be the year that social care is fixed, after more than 20 years of deferrals.
During a speech at the Westminster Health Forum yesterday, Niall Dickson said the social care sector can’t say it is “at the dawn of a new era,” adding, “it’s always something that will happen tomorrow”.
Referring to five green or white papers, numerous policy papers and four independent reviews into social care that have been released since 1998, he said: “Reform has shattered” and that politicians and the health care sector as a whole have “failed to bring the public with us”.
Dickson said that we need a “similar type of settlement” to that delivered in the recently published NHS 10-year plan in order to meet the current “unmet levels of need”, which are largely “a hidden disgrace”.
“As part of that new supplement, we need immediate funding to stabilise the market and meet current needs. Alongside that, we need a new long-term funding formula that will deliver parity of esteem for social care.”
But funding reform is just one part of the equation, Dickson told delegates. “This needs to be accompanied by a review of the current restricted eligibility criteria, new workforce strategy and reforms to carers’ support allowances,” he continued.
“I also believe that any reform should be based on a meaningful and detailed consultation with the public and with social care providers, carers, commissioners and their staff.”
Dickson concluded: “So if 2018 was the year for long-term funding of the NHS, then 2019 needs to be the year social care is fixed. The reality is that the last 20 years has seen very little headway in this.”
Also speaking at the conference, Care England CEO Martin Green agreed: “We have been round the merry-go-round of green papers, intitiatives and reports and we have been doing that now for 21 years.”