Is it just me…?

Editor in Chief, Robert Chamberlain reports on growing concerns about the future of health and social care following the latest CQC report.

All eyes are currently focused on the Autumn Budget (November 22nd) and there is a shared hope that Government has listened to our sector’s leaders regarding our financial crisis. Adding weight to the need for an appropriate long-term funding solution are the responses to Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) annual report on the state of health and social care in England.

State of care

To quote CQC’s statement on the release of its report (October 10th), ‘This year’s State of Care shows that, thanks to the efforts of staff and leaders, the quality of health and social care has been maintained despite very real challenges and the majority of people are getting good, safe care. But future quality is precarious as the system struggles with complex new types of demand, access and cost’.

Sir David Behan, Chief Executive of CQC, points out that despite the warning that social care was approaching ‘tipping point’ after last year’s report, nursing home beds continue to reduce and there is more unmet need.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation responded with strong words indeed, ‘It would be a tragedy if the NHS’s 70th birthday was remembered as the year England’s care system collapsed, but today’s report reveals real concerns that mental health and social care services are not sustainable. Contracts are being handed back leaving more individuals at risk…

‘Today’s report is unequivocal – the quality of services is in a fragile state as the system strains to treat and support more older people with complex conditions. There are fewer nursing home beds and homecare contracts are being handed back, because there is not enough money to pay for the care that is needed.

‘Of course, as the report acknowledges, there is more local services can do to improve co-ordination and the way services are organised, but the inescapable conclusion has to be that without further government funding, today’s perilous state will become tomorrow’s tragedy.

‘As CQC has pointed out, this is one of the major unresolved public policy issues of our time. It is time government and indeed all the political class woke up to this challenge and accept that if social care goes down, we all go down.’

Forlorn hope?

Amid rumours that the promised Green Paper will be delayed until sometime next year and the cap on care costs has been kicked into even longer grass, the signs coming from Government are not promising.

Does the sector need to fail before action will be taken? If Parliament can continue to ignore the facts regarding the fragility of our sector, it would seem this could be the case.
The CQC report is the latest in a growing case of evidence that warns of an impending collapse of health and social care if future funding is not addressed. In the LGA Budget Submission, our sector is described as at ‘tipping point’ with an ‘immediate need’ to invest £1.3bn to ‘stabilise’ the sector.

Those who continue to cite the belief that ‘fat-cat’ investors are to blame for the plight of providers’ funding need to read the VODG’s new report, True costs: Why we cannot ignore the failure in social care funding.

The VODG represents voluntary organisations and the report spells out exactly how challenging the future will be for these without a financial resolution.

Rhidian Hughes, VODG’s Chief Executive puts it well, ‘The Government must develop a strong, sustainable funding plan for social care unless it wants to risk damaging both the quality and quantity of support services available to people who most rely on them.’

Obviously, Brexit is dominating political minds at the moment but a failure to address the stark warnings about adult social care’s future is an acceptance that it will at some point fall apart.

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