The Government has been heavily criticised by healthcare organisations after plans for social care reform were almost entirely absent from the Queen’s Speech.
The speech detailed plans to bring forward legislation to empower the NHS to innovate and embrace technology, and to ensure that patients will receive more tailored and preventative care, closer to home. However, just nine words were given to social care, saying: ‘proposals on social care reform will be brought forward.’
‘Nearly two years ago, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, delivering his first speech, promised the nation that his Government would finally address decades of delay and ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’. Yet two years into his premiership, this promise has failed to materialise,’ said Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
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‘It is disappointing and disheartening that the Government has once again kicked the issue into the long grass, which means the very real risk that no real progress will now be made on this issue during this Parliament. Social care reform is desperately required, and we need a timetable for reform now, not at some distant future point, and this must be coupled with significant long-term investment. The NHS and social care are sister services – if one suffers so does the other – and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how fragile and in dire need of reform England’s social care system has become. A well-funded and good quality social care sector is vital to a healthy nation and a strong and well-performing NHS; reform must no longer be delayed.’
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‘The government has again missed the opportunity to address social care in this Queen’s Speech. Ignoring social care is the same as ignoring the NHS – the pandemic shows their fates are intertwined. Together, they make up a system that is desperately in need of investment – with workforce shortages the top concern,’ said RCN Acting General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen.
‘The government must use the Health and Care Bill to go much further and finally grip these issues. Nursing staff make up the largest part of the workforce and are seeing some of the biggest shortages.’