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Providers Back UNISON Call For National Care Service

Social Care providers today put their weight behind a trade union call for the creation of a new National Care Service for England.

UNISON is calling on prospective MPs to support the move, aimed at tackling the nationwide crisis in social care and paying its workforce properly.

Social care, the trade union says is broken, and that the current “fragmented and privatized” system is unfit to meet the needs of everyone who relies upon it.

Unison says it wants to see a National Care Service that:

  • Gives access to quality care for all those who need it.
  • Is focused on providing world-class social care, not delivering profits for shareholders.
  • Has national pay, terms and conditions for all care workers and a proper workforce plan.
  • Has the long-term and adequate funding for a high-quality care service.
  • Includes an emergency pay boost for all care workers, helping to end the staffing crisis.

UNISON’s general secretary Christina McAnea, a long-term advocate for care workers and co-chair of the Future Social Care Coalition said: “We need a national care service – like the NHS. Care workers need parity of esteem with their colleagues in the health service. We’ve seen how the two systems are completely intertwined – if one fails, so will the other. Social care can no longer be treated as the forgotten frontline.”

Supporting the call social care provider organisation, the Independent Care Group (ICG) says its long-standing call for a National Care Service, with a mixed market of private sector and not-for-profit social care provision, is central to its own manifesto for the General Election.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We have long campaigned for a National Care Service and support UNISON’s call to get all prospective MPs behind the idea.

“The current system isn’t working, social care is in crisis with 1.6m people going without care, 152,000 vacancies in the sector and providers closing or handing back delivery contracts.

“A National Care Service, supported by proper funding, is the minimum we should be looking for from our politicians as they put together their manifestos for the General Election.”

The ICG supports a mixed market of private sector and not-for-profit social care provision through small, medium and large providers, as the best way to provide a high quality of care choice for the country.

“Decades of under-funding, neglect and broken promises have left social care on its knees, with care and nursing homes and homecare providers closing down, leaving more and more people without care.” Mr Padgham added.

“We need the election to bring root and branch reform, the National Care Service and a minimum of £7bn a year extra into social care to make meaningful change to social care delivery and to the pay and conditions of those we employ.

“The current, mixed market approach to social care provision can work perfectly well provided the sector is funded properly.

“We deserve to know what is in the politicians’ thinking before we go to the polls and this time there must be a legally binding way to hold them to account if they fail to deliver.

“Some 14,000 people can’t be discharged from hospital even though they are well enough and much of that is down to a lack of available social care. Investing in social care will ease that pressure on the NHS. It doesn’t need to be new money but can be money switched into social care from the NHS, because eventually, a penny spent on social care will be a penny saved for the NHS.

“It is likely to take two terms of government before we can see proper change, so we need work to begin straight away. The number of people aged over 65 will rise from 10.5m to 13.8m by 2035 and we will need an extra 480,000 people in the social care workforce to provide care to meet that extra demand. We have to start planning for that and we have to start doing so now.”