NHS leaders have called on Boris Johnson to honour his promise to fix social care and set out a timetable for future reforms.
In a letter to the prime minister, the Health for Care coalition, led by the NHS Confederation warn that the current social care system is ‘fractured, under-staffed and under-funded’.
The letter adds that with the potential of a second wave of COVID-19, localised outbreaks, and the challenges of winter ahead, the leaders are now ‘gravely concerned about the ability of social care services to cope’.
‘These difficulties will be compounded by the need to simultaneously provide care and rehabilitation to patients suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19 and those who have not had COVID-19 but have experienced a decline in health as a result of shielding during lockdown,’ the letter states.
Health service leaders were already concerned that the targets looked unrealistic, given workforce vacancies, exhausted and burnt out staff and the fact that many services are having to operate at reduced capacity because of the need for social distancing and infection control.
The scale of the challenge is enormous. In June, more than 50,000 patients had been waiting more than a year for their operations, compared to fewer than 2,000 in February.
Independent analysis estimates that the waiting list for routine procedures could be as high as 10 million by the end of the year.
‘COVID-19 has highlighted the critical role that social care plays in supporting the NHS, but it has also exposed a fractured, understaffed and underfunded system in desperate need of reform,’ said NHS Confederation chief executive, Niall Dickson.
‘Social care services urgently need immediate funding to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic and to prepare for the possibility of further localised outbreaks, as well as a long-term plan, which successive governments have failed to deliver.
‘Without this, the NHS will be fighting with one hand tied behinds its back.
‘The prime minister has promised to ‘fix social care’, we now need that promise fulfilled,’ he added.
Photo Credit – Congerdesign (Pixabay)