Independent Care Group chair Mike Padgham has given a mixed reaction to news that the Government is to put £250m towards tackling the growing crisis in health and social care.
Mr Padgham said every penny of funding to help the situation in social care was valuable but he was worried it was “too little, too late”.
“This extra funding is very welcome and we hope that it will get to the frontline of social care very quickly to boost capacity in the social care sector and aid the speedy discharge of people in to the community,” he said.
“My biggest regret is that it didn’t come sooner – we and others in the sector have been warning for months, if not years, that social care was in crisis and, particularly since the pandemic, struggling to survive.
“An extra £250m, whilst welcome, is not going to touch the surface in terms of tackling the overall crisis. And my major fear is that it will get bogged down in bureaucracy as the £500m to aid hospital discharge announced last September has become.
“We urgently need the NHS to be given the go ahead to purchase care provision directly from care providers, which will speed up the process significantly.”
He was concerned at reports that in some places health trusts might resort to using hotels to provide care for people discharged from hospital.
“I desperately, desperately hope that that is not the case,” he said. “It would be setting an extremely dangerous precedent in discharging patients into places that have not had the rigorous inspection that properly-regulated, managed and staffed care and nursing homes have had.
“Panic measures such as these suggest to me that the Government doesn’t have a properly thought out plan for tackling the crisis in care.
“Those of us delivering care on the frontline know what needs to be done and have the expertise and knowledge to do it. We are happy to discuss it with the Government if they will listen.
“The Government’s announcement today, whilst welcome, is another very small sticking plaster on the problem when what everyone really needs to see is a proper, sustainable root and branch reform of the social care sector.
“We are seeing that the NHS is unsafe and that social care is broken. We cannot go on any longer.
“We need urgent measures to tackle the 165,000 staff vacancies within the sector and then a longer-term strategy to create parity of pay and working conditions between NHS and social care staff.
“We have been warning for more than a decade that governments of all political persuasion were failing social care and for the past two years that we were reaching crisis point.
“We need to see, at the barest minimum, the extra £7bn a year our Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt has previously said was needed by social care, ‘just to stand still’.”
- The ICG says more than 30 years of neglect and under-funding has left social care on the brink of collapse, with Covid-19, chronic staff shortages and the cost-of-living crisis turning the situation critical. Care and nursing homes are closing and homecare providers are struggling through a shortage of staff.
At the end of last year, the ICG published its Five Pillars of Social Care Reform document which sets out what it believes are the actions required to save the sector.
The five pillars are:
- Ring fence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social care to those who already receive it and the 1.6m who can’t get it
- Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and social care
- Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par with NHS
- Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform
- Fix a ‘fair price for care’ cost per bed and cost per homecare visit.