Debate on Health & Social Care (Oct 2018)
In October, I spoke in another Parliamentary debate on the funding of Social Care in England, despite having discussed it just before the summer recess. Although this shows the importance of the issue, it also suggests sufficient progress is not being made.
As the Green Paper is still not available, it is difficult to have a meaningful debate around the future of the funding and provision of social care when, over the past five years, there have been ongoing cuts to its budget. Need has increased in the sector by almost 50% since 2010 – Age UK estimates that more than 1.2 million people are not getting the care that they require – yet there has been a decrease of 26% in England of local authority funded places.
In contracts, in Scotland, despite having their budget cur by just under 9%, the Scottish Government spend £163 per head more on health than the UK Government and £157 per head more on social care. Scotland is the only country in the UK that provides free personal care and we have sustained that since 2002. That has led to less than one third of the increase in A&E attendances and emergency admissions in Scotland over the past five years compared with England. The system is expensive and challenging, but it reduces delayed discharges and it reduces emergency admissions, and is, therefore, cost-effective.
In Scotland, we have been working for the past five years on integrating health and social care. Our integrated joint boards manage one half of our health budget along with local authority funding – it is about shifting money from hospital into primary care, mental health, community care and social care. The home care hours in Scotland have doubled over the past seven years, which allows people with more complex needs to be cared for at home, so as not to end up in a care home or to land acutely in hospital.
All the health and social care systems across the UK face the pressures of increased demand, workforce and money. In terms of workforce we need to make social care a career—to be decent to carers by paying them the real living wage and paying them for all the hours they work, even at night. It is important to treat people with dignity if we want them to treat our loved ones with dignity. Carers should have job satisfaction from having time to care and there needs to be a career structure. Caring should be looked upon like nursing, with training, investment and a way of staying in that career.
To see my speech click here