The chief executive of NHS England has called for the plans to be in place to adequately fund social care within the next 12 months.
Speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday (5 July), Sir Simon Stevens said the current COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a ‘very harsh spotlight’ on what is happening in social care.
Sir Simon added that ‘if any good is to come from this’, then ‘we must use this as a moment to resolve once and for all to actually properly resource and reform the way in which social care works in this country’.
Yesterday marked both the 72nd anniversary of the NHS and the National Assistance Act, which kickstarted social care services as we know them today.
‘The reality, however, is that after at least two decades of talking about it we do not have a fair and properly resourced adult social care system with a proper set of workforce supports,’ he added.
‘If you’ve got a situation where a quarter of your social care staff are on zero hours contracts, when you’ve got a one third churn in employment each year, that is not the preconditions for being able to provide high quality care for older people.
‘I would hope that by the time we are sitting down this time next year, on the 73rd birthday of the NHS, we have actually as a country been able to decisively answer the question how are we going to fund and provide high quality social care for my parents’ generation,’ he added.
Sir Simon also refuted claims that PPE suppliers were told to prioritise the NHS over social care.
‘The Department of Health and Social Care have said very clearly that they at no point had taken PPE away from social care,’ he said in the programme.
‘As I said there clearly was this perfect storm of a combination of disrupted Chinese supply, on which by the way we still have a very great reliance, alongside a huge spike in demand for PPE worldwide.’
Last week, prime minister Boris Johnson promised ministers ‘won’t wait to fix the problem of social care that every government has flunked for the last 30 years’ as part of his ‘New Deal’ speech.
Details about the government’s plans to fix social care are expected at a later date.
The chief executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), Kathryn Smith commented: ‘Sir Simon is right to say that the resilience of the adult social care system has been under the spotlight during the lockdown and COVID-19 crisis.
‘Sir Simon says it’s important to resource and reform care and support; and it’s encouraging that the Department of Health and Social Care are keen on reform as well. It’s true that social care needs proper funding and that the workforce needs to be paid properly and have the status that they don’t always enjoy.
‘But our vision is also of a society where care and support maximises people’s choices and enables them to live a healthy, safe, and fulfilling life. They can achieve this by being active members of their communities.’
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