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Labour promises free home-care for the over 65s

People living with dementia currently face the highest costs for care.

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Care worker helping with meals
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The over-65s will not have to pay for help with dressing, washing and meals.

The Labour Party is promising free personal care in England for those over-65s who are most in need of it, so they will not have to pay for help with dressing, washing and meals.

Currently, only people with low levels of savings receive publicly-funded personal care and there is state help with home costs and residential assistance for those with assets below £23,250. However, people living with dementia face the highest costs for care.

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They promise to introduce free personal care for all older people, providing help with daily tasks in their own homes and residential care; Free personal care will ensure people with dementia receive the same care as those with other conditions.

Labour claims the move will reduce the burden on unpaid carers and benefit the NHS by reducing delayed transfers of care from hospital and admissions to care homes and hospitals.

A million people are not getting the care they need.

At the Labour conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the move would be funded out of general taxation. Also, that cuts to care funding since 2010 had left a million people not getting the care they need and “87 people dying a day waiting for care”.

Subsidising the cost of basic tasks such as getting in and out of bed and going to the toilet will enable more people to continue to live independently in their homes, he said. ” I believe the right to dignity in retirement is a part of that right to health at any stage of life.”

Free personal care is something campaigners have long been calling for in England as Scotland has already introduced it and Wales and Northern Ireland each provide some level of universal entitlement.

In Wales the cost of home care is capped, while in Northern Ireland the over-75s get it for free; Based on Scottish figures, Labour said the move could save those currently self-funding their care almost £10,000 a year while 70,000 fewer families would be liable for “catastrophic” lifetime care costs in excess of £100,000.

Mr McDonnell also pledged to close the gap in social care funding and give local authorities extra support to provide care so services are not outsourced to private firms; The King’s Fund think tank has estimated that free personal care could cost £6bn a year in 2020-21, rising to £8bn by 2030.

The organisation said Labour’s announcement was a welcome step but “it is not the same thing as free social care, and some people would still be left facing catastrophic costs.”

Care services have been pushed to the brink.

Further support to the care workforce has been pledged to ensure that older people receive support from trained staff who have the time and skills needed to provide care; As part of the National Care Service, Labour has pledged to raise standards of care by ending the use of zero-hour contracts and ensuring that carers are paid a real living wage, including for travel time. Also, to end 15-minute care visits and improve access to training and development for care staff.

Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Social Care and Mental Health Minister, said: “Nine years of cuts to local council budgets have pushed care services to the brink. For years, the Tories have failed to bring in much-needed reform, leaving too many people and their families struggling to afford the care they need.

“Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour. Our plans for social care will address the immediate crisis in care, double the number of people receiving publicly-funded care, and stop people with dementia being treated unfairly by the care system.

“It is vital that social care is a universally-available public service which provides dignity, security and compassionate care. Our National Care Service will have these principles at its core.”

Health Politics

Bill calling for safer staffing legislation put before Parliament

There are now 43,671 vacant nursing posts throughout the NHS in England alone.

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Maria Caulfield

The Bill will seek to “establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, nurse and member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), today brought a Bill designed “to establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”

The Bill comes as nursing vacancy rates hit a record high with 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone – leaving 12% of full-time nursing posts unfilled.

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In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the RCN highlights the impact the nursing staffing crisis is having on patient safety.

Scotland recently secured new legislation on safe staffing and a nurse staffing law was introduced in Wales in 2016.

‘No one is responsible and no one is accountable’.

Ms Cauldfield said; “There is increasing evidence that the right number of qualified nurses can improve patient outcomes in terms of mortality, morbidity and quality of care and that conversely, an insufficient number of nurses can have a potentially life-threatening effect for patients.”

Presenting the primary aim of the Bill as; “to make the Government accountable for nursing levels in England, as currently no one is accountable for nursing levels in England and that is why we have such a high nursing vacancy rate.”

Before adding that the other aims of the Bill were ensuring the NHS has “a fully costed workforce strategy and nursing numbers” alongside ensuring training and development for nurses throughout their career.

Cauldfield controversially voted against scrapping the pay cap for NHS workers in 2017.

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Health Politics

New hospitals are useless ‘without the staff to operate them’

Experts have warned that without the staff to operate them, new buildings are useless.

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Hospital Empty Ward

Nearly £3 billion has been promised to six NHS hospitals to upgrade their “crumbling infrastructure”.

The government has pledged to spend billions on improving the health services “crumbling” buildings as part of a new Health Infrastructure Plan due to be published later today.

During the start of the Conservative party conference yesterday, the Government pledged to spend £2.7 billion on upgrading the facilities of six large NHS hospitals by 2025.

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Subject to business case approval, a further 21 hospitals will be given £100 million to further develop their current services between 2025 and 2030.

In total, the programme will involve more than 40 hospital building projects.

The Government claims the new investment will allow the NHS to build “world-class facilities for patients and staff for the long term”, however healthcare leaders have warned that the additional funding is not enough.

‘Falls well short’.

Experts have highlighted that the promised investments fail to address the issue of chronic underinvestment in the health services workforce.

Anita Charlesworth, Head of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “While this money is very much needed following years of underinvestment in the NHS’s crumbling infrastructure, it falls well short of the scale of the challenge.

“With a backlog of maintenance and repairs that amounts to more than £6bn – much of which threatens patient’s safety – and dozens of NHS trust upgrade projects that have been delayed or cancelled, the figure needed is closer to £3bn each year for the next 5 years.”

Adding; “the NHS is facing severe staff shortages with over 100,000 vacancies. Without the staff to operate them, buildings and scanners alone will not address the severe capacity issues that the health service currently faces.”

‘100,000 unfilled vacancies’.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Council Chair of the British Medical Association, said; “With fewer hospital beds per population compared to other European countries, and a backlog in maintenance and repairs totalling billions, this will clearly not be enough to deliver what is needed.

“The problem is not limited to hospitals as investment in primary and social care is just as important.

“As doctors we know that hospitals are only as good as the staff who run them and given the scale of the workforce crisis in the NHS, with 100,000 unfilled vacancies, the Government must understand the importance of addressing this if they are to successfully deliver their plan.

“In times of such political uncertainty and with Brexit looming, it is important that any investment promised is delivered with a view not just of the immediate short-term but the long-term sustainability of the NHS that places patients at the core of its motivation.”

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