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Social care: An ‘urgent transformation’ is needed

Reforms to social care comparable to the foundation of the NHS are needed after the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been told

Reforms to social care comparable to the foundation of the NHS are needed after the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been told.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, care home providers, health experts and politicians urged him to address the challenges present in the sector, which they say is on its knees. The letter calls for social care to have "its 1948 moment" to establish a ‘long-term and sustainable future’ for the sector. Mr Johnson has pledged to unveil the government's long-awaited social care plan later this year. He has previously accepted that coronavirus has ‘highlighted the difficulties’ in the sector.

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‘Social care is little understood but much needed and is usually accessed at a time of crisis without the information and support to make informed choices. We support the recent calls by the Health and Social Care Select Committee for an extra £7 billion per annum and for a workforce strategy,’ said the letter’s signatories.

‘These measures will help us to secure a long-term future for care, create new careers and build back stronger after the pandemic. Investing in our social care system both in terms of money and personnel is now essential. The current system leaves many families struggling to survive when one of the family members needs social care. Each year thousands of people face losing their home and all their family assets, and many older people who have a family member needing care, face the prospect of financial hardship in later life.’

According to Age UK, 1.6 million people aged 65 and over do not receive the care and support they need and this could grow to 2.1 million people by 2030. Similarly, there is also unmet demand for people with learning disabilities; the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services reports that in the last four years there has been a 10% increase in the numbers of younger people who require social care.

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‘The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly promised to fix the crisis in social care, yet two years into his premiership and despite decades of delay, the Government still has yet to make any real progress on this issue. Social care reform is now urgently and desperately needed. We urge the Government to set out a clear timetable, which details how reform of the sector can be delivered, and this needs to be supported by a long-term financial settlement,’ said Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of the NHS Confederation.

‘The NHS and social care are sister services and have been supporting one another and working closely for many, many decades. If one service is suffering, the other does too, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year have yet again served to highlight how brittle 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 vital to a healthy nation and a strong and well-performing NHS.’