The chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Niall Dickson, has said that there is a real concern throughout the whole system that the government will not deliver on its social care funding promise.
Speaking today he said that the lack of social care support is washing on to the health service with people stuck in hospital beds.
The statement follows the weekend announcement that a coalition of 15 health organisations had come together to call on the government to create a sustainable social care system.
Led by the NHS Confederation, the group warns that millions of vulnerable people are being deprived of the care and support they need because of the government’s failure to grasp the crisis in social care, with services in parts of the country near collapse.
In a letter to the prime minister, they point out that at least 1.4 million older people in England in need now receive no help because the social care system is failing.
The letter comes weeks ahead of the expected publications of the government’s social care green paper. It also sets out a series of principles for a future social care system.
The letter highlighted that there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and that figure will increase to more than 1 million by 2025. Already up to 58% of people over 60 are living with at least one long-term condition such as diabetes, arthritis or hypertension and the numbers with comorbidities has been rising by 8% a year.
It said that the task is to support an ageing population, with increasingly complex needs. It is little wonder that this is not being achieved given that the funding of social services for home help and other care funding has fallen by 11% in the last five years.
To address the crisis in social care, the Health for Care coalition is calling for a funding settlement, which puts social care on to a sustainable path for the longer term, as well as addressing immediate needs from April 2020.
According to the coalition, that will require secure funding commitments, a workforce strategy and a diverse and stable market of providers.
It is the first time that a coalition of health organisations has formally come together to act on social care.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which leads the Health for Care coalition, said: “Everyone’s mind is elsewhere just now, but this is a national scandal and a national disgrace. Record numbers of older people are being left to struggle each day without the care and support they need. It leads to a grossly inefficient system - the cost of doing nothing is great and the personal impact on individuals and their families can be devastating.
“Finding a sustainable solution is among the greatest challenges we face. Successive governments have failed to deal with this, but we have reached a point where we cannot go like this - time is running out.
“Our goal should be to deliver a settlement for social care in England that will last for generations. The promised Green Paper and autumn spending review present an essential opportunity to invest in social care over the longer term, as the Government is now investing in the NHS. Whatever proposals are included in the green paper, they must address the central issue of widening eligibility.”
Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: “Securing a sustainable social care system for the future is not only important for health and care organisations. It is also the right thing to do for millions of older people and their families struggling to access the help they need and for the millions more of us who will require support in the future.
“The need for action is more pressing than ever. The NHS and social care are two sides of the same coin. Without addressing the social care challenge, we risk devaluing every pound of the recent funding settlement for the NHS.
“We are pleased to add the voice of NHS trusts alongside our colleagues in healthcare organisations to call for urgent action and a long term sustainable solution for social care. If we miss this chance for action, we risk storing up further problems for both health and care services in the future.”