Care leader throws down challenge to candidates

ICG Chair Mike Padgham has challenged the two remaining candidates for the Tory leadership to visit the frontline of social care delivery and say what they plan to do to end the crisis in care.

Mr Padgham has written an urgent letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss calling on them to come clean over their plans for social care.

He said: “I challenge the two candidates to visit front line delivery of social care and see for themselves the crisis facing the care of our oldest and most vulnerable.

“We need urgent action to ensure the country does not suffer a catastrophic failure in the delivery of care accompanied by further collapse in the provision of NHS healthcare.

“Years of neglect and under-funding combined with the current staffing shortages and soaring cost of living are pushing care providers to the brink of survival.”

In his letter, Mr Padgham writes: “We deserve to see from you, who hope to be our next Prime Minister, what you intend to do to create a proper, sustainable sector to look after our most vulnerable.

“This must begin with a diversion of the Health and Social Care Levy to social care to properly fund the sector, end the loss of provision and provide proper pay and career structures for care workers.

“I extend that open invitation to you to visit a care provider or am happy to meet with you whenever and wherever you wish to discuss this critical issue.

“There is an opportunity for the next Prime Minister to make a very real difference straight away.

“But we need to hear how you plan to do it and we need to hear that now.”

 

The letter in full:

Dear Candidate,

There has been precious little mention of social care in the campaigning so far and the millions of people who benefit from and work in the sector deserve better.

I would like to invite you to visit a frontline social care provider to see for yourself the crisis facing the care of our oldest and most vulnerable citizens.

We have been warning for more than 30 years that social care was not being funded properly to provide a good, sustainable service for people who need that care every day to help them live a full life.

Those years of under-funding left social care in a perilous state and Covid-19 hit the sector hard.

Now a beleaguered social care sector finds itself facing a massive staffing shortage and huge increases in costs, including fuel and utility prices.

There is a very real risk of significant provider failure with a subsequent loss of care provision.

Failure in social care would hit NHS care too as it is one of the bedrocks on which the health service is built. There are already huge delays in hospital discharges because there are no packages of social care available to look after people when they leave hospital. This is only going to get worse.

The NHS is itself close to breaking point due to similar funding and staffing issues. I recently got a taste of this on a personal level when I accompanied the close relative of a friend to hospital. After a very long wait for an ambulance, this older gentleman then endured several hours in that ambulance before being transferred to a trolley in a corridor for a further lengthy wait and after being admitted he was then transferred to another hospital. Overall, an intolerable experience for anyone, even worse for someone of advanced years and in poor health.

Without a strong and sustainable social care sector, we cannot have an effective NHS. Both have to be properly funded and supported.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has said that support for the NHS and social care cannot wait until we have a new Prime Minister, and he is right.

There have been calls for the recall of Parliament over the cost-of-living crisis. I would argue that similar, urgent action is required over health and social care.

Yes, rapidly rising food prices and the soaring cost of gas, electricity and petrol are putting a real strain on all of us, especially those on lower incomes. That is why the economy has been so prominent in your campaign discussions. But our health is just as important.

Today is already too late for many who can’t get care and providers who are leaving the sector.

You may believe that there aren’t many votes in social care. It isn’t a populist issue and nor does it have strong trade union or other representation to fight its corner more loudly.

But NHS healthcare and social care are vital for us all, our husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, everyone.

We applauded nurses and carers for their valiant efforts on the frontline to keep so many people safe from Covid-19l.

Have we forgotten that already? Have we gone back to complacency so quickly?

Frighteningly, too many people only think about healthcare and social care when they need it. They then wrongly imagine that whatever they need will be there for them.

Care providers have many years’ experience and can advise on what needs to be done to save the service. You must draw upon that expertise.

We deserve to see from you, who hope to be our next Prime Minister, what you intend to do to create a proper, sustainable sector to look after our most vulnerable.

This must begin with a diversion of the Health and Social Care Levy to social care to properly fund the sector, end the loss of provision and provide proper pay and career structures for care workers.

I extend that open invitation to you to visit a care provider or am happy to meet with you whenever and wherever you wish to discuss this critical issue.

There is an opportunity for the next Prime Minister to make a very real difference straight away.

But we need to hear how you plan to do it and we need to hear that now.

 

Mike Padgham
Chair
Independent Care Group