Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has said social care reform could be further delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hancock told the daily coronavirus briefing yesterday that it would not be “straightforward” to meet the Prime Minister’s target of getting the long-awaited reforms under way this year.
He said: “Well, the time frame has been clear, which is that we have got to get these reforms done in this Parliament and the Prime Minister has previously said we will get them set out this year.
“That was before coronavirus – we will still try to do that but it is not straightforward.”
Boris Johnson said he had a clear plan to fix the social care crisis in his first speech after becoming PM in December 2019.
Hopes for much-needed reform have subsequently faded, however, after he admitted in January that it could take five years to implement them.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, executive chairman of the National Care Association, said: “This can only be seen as more dither and delay, sadly. The opportunity to push reform forward at a time when social care has been on the frontline of supporting some of those most affected by the pandemic is once again being used as an excuse not to address this critical issue. The way this government continues to let down the frail and the elderly population of this country is unbelievable.
“We will continue to lobby for those who aren’t being heard. This delay may well have grave consequences which could be avoided especially at a time when it could be used to create a sustainable sector which could work with and support the NHS of the future.”
Care England CEO Professor Martin Green said: “We have waited 22 years for successive governments to reform social care and the COVID-19 crisis shows the urgency of delivering a long-term sustainable funding solution. Social care and the NHS are interdependent systems and there has been unprecedented investment into the NHS, and this needs to be mirrored by the investment in social care”