A leading think tank has called for the social care system to be made ‘free at the point of use’ once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
A new research paper by the Policy Exchange group claims the current crisis has raised ‘fundamental questions’ about health and social care and the resources made available to both.
It argues that when the pandemic subsides, ministers will have a chance to ‘do things differently’ and take ‘bold, decisive and long-term action’.
‘Like the NHS, it should introduce new measures in the tax system to fund it largely free at the point of use for those older and working age people, who require long-term chronic care,’ the report states.
‘This will address a funding divide, which no longer makes sense and would generate a positive legacy from this terrible virus.’
In particular, the paper calls on ministers to remove the ‘historic funding barrier’ between health and social care.
It also argues that the temporary NHS hospitals set up to deal with the current crisis should be used to support social care demand and flow, especially for patients being discharged from main hospitals.
In addition, the report suggests that the upcoming NHS People Plan include a full health and wellbeing package to support staff.
And it says the NHS and the government should conduct a review after the pandemic subsides and remove ‘unnecessary processes’ that should never return to the NHS and social care services.
The Policy Exchange report comes after another think tank, the Resolution Foundation called for all care workers to earn the real Living Wage.
Earlier this week, it warned that the general public are still unaware of the ‘sheer scale’ of low pay and job insecurity in the sector.
‘What comes next for health and social care policy is impossible to fully predict, but to deliver a healthier, wealthier nation post-COVID-19 new thinking will be needed,’ the Policy Exchange report states.
‘The virus has raised fundamental questions about the resources available for health and social care, how they are divided, how workforce challenges across the NHS and social care can be addressed, the potential of digital health to transform the access and delivery of healthcare services and the resilience of healthcare supply chains.’
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