A top-level call for the creation of a National Care Service is welcome but cannot be delayed for as long as suggested, providers warned today.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) has backed calls by the Fabian Society to create a new National Care Service in a report issued today.
But the ICG says such a move cannot wait a further five years to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the NHS, as the Fabian Society suggests.
And it has also described suggestions that people be paid £25 to £50 a week contribution to their care costs as “a drop in the ocean”.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:
“We welcome today’s report by the Fabian Society and broadly support the suggestions contained within it.
“We have campaigned for a long time for the creation of a National Care Service, merging NHS and social care services and we are particularly pleased to see the report calling for social care staff to achieve parity with their NHS colleagues in terms of pay and conditions.
“The sector currently has 165,000 vacancies and measures must be taken to recruit staff into the sector so that we can start to meet an ever-rising tide of unmet care need.”
But he said providers would be dismayed at the suggested timeline.
“I know that these things take time, but we don’t have that time in social care,” he said. “Saying that the National Care Service be launched in 2028 – the 80th anniversary of the NHS – is a lovely idea, but social care cannot wait.
“We need to see improvement on the ground now or there won’t be much social care provision left to work with.
“I would also question the idea of a £25 or £50 a week contribution to people’s care costs. Again, this is well-meant but in reality, a drop in the ocean towards making a meaningful contribution.
“When you consider that an hour of homecare costs around £25 and a week in a care home around £850, you can see that these suggested contributions won’t go very far.”
He said what was urgently needed was short and long-term reform of the social care sector, including a switching of resources from the NHS to social care to provide greater preventative care.
“Yes, extra funding is required to support social care and an estimated £7bn a year extra is needed right away,” he added. “But the Government should realise that switching resources from the NHS into preventative social care – looking after people in their own homes for longer, for example – will have huge long-term benefits for people’s quality of life and long-term financial savings for the NHS.”