The long-standing need to reform social care has been thrown into stark relief by Covid-19, according to a new report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The watchdog’s annual state of health and social care in England report says the care sector was already fragile before the pandemic started and in dire need of investment and workforce planning.
The report makes clear that these issues need to be urgently addressed and underpinned by a new deal for the care workforce, which recognises and values staff, invests in their training and supports appropriate professionalisation.
The report also notes that as of 31 March this year, 80% of adult social care services were rated as good and 5% as outstanding.
‘Covid is magnifying inequalities across the health and care system – a seismic upheaval which has disproportionately affected some more than others and risks turning fault lines into chasms,’ said CQC chief executive, Ian Trenholm.
‘As we adjust to a Covid age, the focus must be on shaping a fairer health and care system – both for people who use services, and for those who work in them.’
The CQC report comes days after a study by the TLP Insight Group warned existing problems in social care had been ‘exacerbated’ by Covid-19.
Responding to the report, Unison’s assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said social care staff need a new deal.
‘A pay and jobs boost is needed both in social care and the NHS. This would help raise morale, which is plummeting fast among workers as Covid cases soar,’ she added.
‘The prime minister must act now to ensure hospitals, health centres and care homes are in the best possible position to fill vacancies in the long winter ahead.’
And the chief executive of the King’s Fund, Richard Murray said the most ‘concerning aspect’ of the CQC report was that ‘few of its findings come as a surprise’.
‘Health inequalities were already widening before the pandemic and for several years this report has provided an annual warning to governments about the crisis in adult social care. Yet still we wait for the government to act on the longstanding promises of reform,’ added Mr Murray.
‘It is time for a reset in public policy to tackle deeply entrenched health inequalities. As health and care staff brace for the second wave of Covid-19, ministers and national leaders must initiate a discussion about the fundamental changes that will create a healthier and fairer society beyond the pandemic. This is essential if the government is to deliver on its promise to “level up” between rich and poor areas.’
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