More than 150,000 members of the public and over 50 health leaders have signed a petition for Government to fix the issues faced by social care.
In what is believed to be the largest petition of its kind, the Prime Minister is urged to end the vast cuts in social care that have left around 1.4 million older people in England unable to access the care and support they need.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, NHS leaders have welcomed his commitment to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’. They have pledged their support and are calling for:
- Cross-party talks to help deliver a more sustainable social care system, backed up by a long-term financial settlement.
- Immediate funding increases in the upcoming one-year government spending review that is being conducted this autumn to shore up care services in the short term.
- Genuine long-term funding alongside key reforms to help fix the issues faced by social care with a solution that lasts a generation and more. This must include a widening of the eligibility criteria to ensure those people most in need get the care and support they require.
The letter and petition have been organised by the NHS Confederation, which leads the Health for Care coalition of 15 national health organisations who have joined forces to make the case for social care.
The health leaders who have signed the letter calling for Government to fix the issues faced by social care span hospital, mental health, community services and Clinical Commissioning Groups up and down the country. They believe extra investment and reform of social care is not only the right thing to do for vulnerable people who need support, but that a failure to deliver a solution will result in further pressure on local hospital and other NHS services. They believe the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan will be placed in jeopardy as a result.
Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, which is leading the Health for Care coalition, said, 'The level of distress being experienced by hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people and their carers is now much greater and on a wider scale than at any time in living memory. This is a crisis and it has to be urgently addressed. We welcome the Prime Minister’s early commitment to find a solution. As our petition shows, the public recognise the human cost of inaction and they want this resolved. Successive governments have failed to address this issue – the new Government has a chance to put this right.'
Siobhan Melia, Chief Executive of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, said, 'Vulnerable people are facing unacceptable delays in accessing the care that they need due to a dearth of provision of social care packages. This means that NHS teams are caring for people longer than they need to, placing increased demand on community and hospital services.
'It will simply be impossible to deliver the ambition in the NHS Long Term Plan to join up health and care services in local communities, and to support people to age well without immediate action to reform the social care system.'
Michael Wilson, Chief Executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said, 'If we want our health and social care system to be sustainable, then we need to act urgently to resolve this crisis.
'For example, a total of 850,000 people in the UK live with dementia – this is set to increase to more than 1 million by 2025. This challenge is not going away.
'We have consistently talked about these problems and we now need to agree a range of solutions, which provide the best possible care.'
A separate report published this week by the Health for Care coalition reveals the major gap in funding that local councils are facing in meeting the care needs of their local residents. To merely maintain the status-quo it says a cash injection of £1.1bn to £2.5bn is required.
This funding gap is likely to grow, with estimates from the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics estimating that the number of older people needing publicly funded social care could increase by 300,000 by 2035 – a rise of 69%.