I awoke early this morning to write my column on the winning political party’s victory and what we should expect for social care from their promises. However, the previous late night’s predictions about the outcome of the General Election were accurate. Unfortunately, a hung parliament is what we currently have.
I’m sure that this is not great news generally, but for our sector it is an unwelcome result. Despite the differing pledges in their respective manifestos and your own views on which were better, all will now go on hold.
Not all bad news?
Trying to be optimistic about the outcome, it was reassuring that the main parties all realised that the crisis in social care was a key point. Each stated that something radical needs to be done to address the situation and despite their different opinions of how to approach it, this was a common objective across the board. In doing so, it highlighted the severity of our sector’s situation to the general public, raising awareness of our plight.
I think this was especially important in respect of the lack of long-term funding and its continued impact. So often, I hear critical opinions about costly care fees from lay people who are uninitiated because they have little or no personal experience of arranging or receiving care. A stronger public voice to push for better funding has the potential to further our cause. Political focus regularly concentrates on the NHS with social care a poor relation, despite a cross-party push for integration of both sectors’ services.
We can, therefore, be hopeful that eventually, whatever the outcome of who (or what) will form the new Government, fixing our sector has to be on their agenda.
Looking to the future, UKHCA’s Chair, Mike Padgham puts it well, ‘A rapid resolution of the political leadership of the UK is urgent, so that a new Government can build a consensus to secure proper funding of care services and to ensure there is a sufficient social care workforce following exit from the European Union.’ He also reiterates the need for the appointment of a senior minister for social care and the promise of a Green Paper.
Obviously, the pre-election comments of Jeremy Corbyn to ‘not just repeal the Health and Social Care Act, but unpick the 25 years of marketisation’ suggest a back to the drawing board approach if the Labour Party has an influence.
The Daily Mail is calling for another Royal Commission in its online comment today (9th June 2017), ‘…to rise above the fray of tribal politics and develop a genuine long-term strategy. It must examine all options on how to meet rising costs – including a viable insurance scheme – while also advising on how best to ensure the highest standards are maintained. And, of course, it should look not only at care but also the funding and operation of the NHS. The two are inextricably linked and the crisis in both is worsening by the day. It will not simply go away.’
I understand why such a move would appear to avoid the political complications, but I cannot be the only cynic when it comes to contemplating yet another Royal Commission. Historically, everything gets put on hold for this very lengthy process, only for the recommendations to be diluted or ignored.
Time will tell
For now, I guess we will just have to wait to see what happens to resolve the leadership issue. As a sector, we’ll then need to reapply as much pressure as we can once we know who we are dealing with. I sincerely hope that there will be greater public pressure behind us from now on. It will make such a difference if the voters are shouting too.
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