The older population and vulnerable groups are at risk of seeing their health and wellbeing worsening as the country faces an "unprecedented crisis in social care", according to a new report.

The report published by the British Medical Association (BMA) says that years of chronic underfunding and severe workforce issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

It says this is a 'ticking timebomb' and government proposals to shape the future of social care have fallen significantly short of what is needed.

The BMA added that people living in poorer areas of the country, many of whom already have a greater need for support than more affluent areas, will see their health and wellbeing worsen in the coming years unless there is wholescale reform to the social care system. 

Social care is worsening health inequalities across the country

Chair of the BMA's committee on community care Dr Anil Jain said: “Serious underfunding of local authorities means many have their hands tied unfairly. Those living in the most deprived areas, many of whom have greater need for support, will not get the same access to the services they need. Complexities around the means tested provision of care too have led to a system of unfairness, which is worsening health inequalities across the country.

“The current social care system is deeply flawed. As doctors, we are concerned that the government proposals to fix are not sustainable and will risk seeing the health of some of the most vulnerable and elderly populations worsening. The system needs urgent reform if we are to meet the challenges of the future.”

The report recommends the following to address the issue:

  • A further £7.9 billion a year in social care funding by 2024/25 to keep up with cost pressures and demand, and to pay social care staff the national living wage.
  • Ensure social care workers are paid the Real Living Wage, as a minimum, to improve the status of carers and curb the current high rate of turnover in the sector.
  • Introduce a standard work contract and improved training opportunities for social care staff with the option for every care worker to move onto this new contract.
  • Provide free personal care at the point of need to ensure that social care can be accessed by all those who need it and abolish the unfair system of means testing.