The three Chairs Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health Committee, Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, and Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee have sent a letter to the Prime Minister, in which they say that a ‘political consensus’ is needed to address the ‘pressing social care challenges facing the country’ and that it must also include the NHS. In the letter they call on the Prime Minister to invite all parties to participate in a review, covering the health and social care systems. The committee chairs say that a “political consensus” is needed to tackle the “pressing social care challenges facing the country”, and that said concensus must also include the NHS. They call on the prime minister to invite all parties to take part in an urgent review, covering the health and social care systems.
The letter follows the Prime Ministers appearance before the House of Commons Liaison Committee on December 20, when she answered questions on health and social care funding.
The letter reads: “We were encouraged by your recognition at the Liaison Committee that everyone has a part to play in finding a sustainable way of ensuring social care provision in the future. You also accepted the need for a review to find a way of funding social care sustainably for the long term.
“We believe that can best be achieved if there is cross-party consensus, and therefore urge you to invite all parties to become involved in a review, which should begin as soon as possible. Given the scale of rising demand, this immense challenge will face whichever party is in government over the coming decades.”
The committee chairs argue that the consensus should be reached swiftly so that the agreed approach can be reflected in the next round of government spending.
“We also feel that the ongoing separation of health and social care is creating difficulties for individuals and avoidable barriers and inefficiencies. Any review should cover the two systems”, the MPs add.
Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: “We completely support the select committees in urging the prime minister to reach a cross-party agreement on the future of health and social care funding.
“Following last month’s Local Government Finance Settlement, we said there needed to be an urgent and fundamental review of social care before the Spring Budget, and we are pleased the select committees back this.
“But it is absolutely vital that local government leaders, who are responsible for social care in their local community, are part of that review.
“This is imperative to get a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care crisis that the most vulnerable people in our society deserve.”
Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, said: “Our hospitals are facing unprecedented pressure this winter, with cancelled operations, bed shortages and patients turned away from A&E. But this situation will only get worse in the years to come as services struggle to keep up rising demand.
“The Government cannot afford to ignore these challenges any longer. Bold action is needed to reverse the rapid deterioration in the health and care system which is increasingly putting the safety and wellbeing of patients at risk.
“There is no time to waste in setting aside party differences and working together to secure the long-term future of the NHS and social care.”