A chronic lack of funding for social care is a major reason why a queue of up to 14 ambulances was seen outside Scarborough Hospital this week, a campaigner said today.
Mike Padgham said the gridlock in local hospitals was largely down to a lack of available care in the community for people when they are discharged.
“We have been warning about this for a long, long time,” Mr Padgham said. “Government after government has under-funded social care to the point where the sector is now in crisis.
“The local health trust and local authority and the voluntary sector are performing miracles and working with the local care sector to tackle the crisis. But at the end of the day chronic under-funding by the Government has left the situation critical.
“Care and nursing home are closing and homecare is struggling through a lack of staff. It can’t be a surprise that there is nowhere for hospital patients to go and it is only going to get worse unless the Government funds and reforms social care properly. We need to pay social care staff on a par with their NHS counterparts to help tackle the staffing crisis.
“This isn’t just happening in Scarborough, it is happening all over the country and it is a scandal.”
Mr Padgham, who is Chair of the provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG), has written to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor calling for urgent action.
“Some 1.6m people can’t get the care they need. For more than 30 years social care has not been funded properly to provide a good, sustainable service for people who need care every day to help them live a full life,” he added. “Those years of under-funding left social care in a perilous state and Covid-19 then hit it hard. Now, still recovering from the pandemic, the sector finds itself facing continuing financial hardship, a massive staffing shortage (165,000 vacancies) and huge increases in costs, including rocketing fuel and utility prices.
“I appreciate that the Government is facing some tough economic decisions in the coming weeks, but social care cannot be made to suffer any longer.
“Despite the economic climate, social care must get the funding it needs to look after people and support NHS hospitals.
“The Government needs to start reform by giving the sector at least the £7bn extra a year the Chancellor has previously admitted the sector needs ‘just to stand still’.”