Health leaders call on Boris Johnson to honour his pledge to ‘fix social care once and for all’

An independent analysis estimates that the waiting list for routine procedures could be as high as 10 million by the end of the year.

James McKay
26 August 2020

The fractured, under-staffed, and under-funded social care system is in desperate need of reform.

Health leaders have written to the prime minister calling on him to honour his pre-election pledge to fix social care “once and for all”.

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The letter, signed by members of the Health for Care coalition led by the NHS Confederation, provides a stark warning that with winter the “fractured, under-staffed and under-funded system” is in desperate need of reform and a “comprehensive and funded plan”.

They also warn that any second wave of COVID-19 would leave the NHS unable to clear the backlog of routine operations.

In June, more than 50,000 patients had been waiting more than a year for their operations, compared to fewer than 2,000 in February.

An independent analysis estimates that the waiting list for routine procedures could be as high as 10 million by the end of the year.

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Once and for all.

The letter to Mr. Johnson reads; “You have promised to fix social care ‘once and for all’ and we now urge you to set out a timetable for reform which will both address the immediate crisis and result in comprehensive legislative proposals to place the sector on a sustainable footing.”

“During the pandemic, our members have seen first-hand the unacceptable pressures experienced by those working in the care sector – whether in residential homes or in the community.”

“We are clear, as we believe you are, that this is a fractured, under-staffed and under-funded system in desperate need of reform. With the potential of a second wave of COVID-19, localised outbreaks, and the challenges of winter ahead, we are now gravely concerned about the ability of social care services to cope.”

Before adding that “These difficulties will be compounded by the need to simultaneously provide care and rehabilitation to patients suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19 and those who have not had COVID-19 but have experienced a decline in health as a result of shielding during lockdown.”

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The letter was comes alongside an NHS Confederation report that proposes reforms to ensure social care can support the NHS.

Desperate need of reform.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation and chair of the Health for Care coalition, said: “COVID-19 has highlighted the critical role that social care plays in supporting the NHS, but it has also exposed a fractured, understaffed and underfunded system in desperate need of reform.

“Social care services urgently need immediate funding to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic and to prepare for the possibility of further localised outbreaks, as well as a long-term plan, which successive governments have failed to deliver.

“Without this, the NHS will be fighting with one hand tied behinds its back.

“The Prime Minister has promised to ‘fix social care’, we now need that promise fulfilled.”

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