The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP announced yesterday that the Green Paper is to be delayed until Autumn and the funding profile of the sector 'will not be settled until the spending review'.
Speaking in the House of Commons about the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday of a new long-term funding plan for the NHS, Mr Hunt confirmed the funding which will support a 10-year plan for the NHS, saying, 'The NHS will receive an increase of £20.5 billion a year in real terms by 2023-24, an average of 3.4% per year growth over the next five years. The funding will be front-loaded with increases of 3.6% in the first two years, which means £4 billion extra next year in real terms, with an additional £1.25 billion cash to cope with specific pension pressures.'
Regarding social care, Mr Hunt went on to say, 'For our most vulnerable citizens with both health and care needs, we also recognise that NHS and social care provision are two sides of the same coin. It is not possible to have a plan for one sector without having a plan for the other.
'Indeed, we have been clear with the NHS that a key plank of its plan must be the full integration of the two services. As part of the NHS plan, we will review the current functioning and structure of the Better Care Fund to make sure that it supports that. While the long-term funding profile of the social care system will not be settled until the spending review, we will publish the social care Green Paper ahead of that. However, because we want to integrate plans for social care with the new NHS plan, it does not make sense to publish it before the NHS plan has even been drafted, so we now intend to publish the social care Green Paper in the autumn around the same time as the NHS plan.'
He also added that the workforce plan will be announced alongside the NHS long-term plan later this year.
Commenting on the announcement that the Green Paper is to be delayed until Autumn, VODG Chief Executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said, 'We welcome the new funding for the NHS and the efforts to join up services. But social care exists in its own right and the current focus on NHS reform must not be at the expense of overlooking community care. It is wholly unacceptable that once again government has decided to delay the Green Paper process.
'Government is failing to heed warnings from the Care Quality Commission regulator about the sustainability of provision. Action is vital. Millions of disabled and older people, and their carers, rely on essential social care services each day – we all deserve better.'
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of National Care Forum added, 'The need for action on social care is now. We were promised a Green Paper on social care this Summer, way before the current announcements on funding and a ten-year settlement for the NHS. The continual pushing back of this key policy agenda is a disservice to people who need and use services, and the wider community.
'The Green Paper needs to focus on a funding solution for social care, alongside important messages around the transformation of service models and delivery. The Green Paper needs to explore these in detail and therefore the purported logic of tying together the consultative paper on social care with the action based funded plan for the NHS does not hold true. Our concern is that the real innovation and exploration promised in the social care Green Paper will disappear as social care and its future funding is shaped and moulded to meet NHS priorities, rather than giving it time over the summer to develop a fully-formed future-focused agenda to work in equal partnership with health.'