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The future of social care: fixing the crisis

The reform of the social care sector has never been needed more than now, says BMA representative chair Dr Helena McKeown.

Greater pressure on the social care system is resulting in rising levels of unmet need, increasingly affecting the NHS and causing unnecessary strain on critical services, where there is little to no capacity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this dramatically to the fore this past year, to the point where the government can no longer delay the need to provide a solution to the crisis.

As a result, the BMA is bringing together leading voices in the sector to discuss what is needed to fix the crisis in social care.

We held a virtual roundtable event on January 26 for representatives from across the social care sector to consider the challenges facing social care across the UK to look at how we can work together to address these, as well as looking at lessons that have been learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.

A number of experts attended the event and I spoke with representatives from organisations including, the Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, National Care Forum, Skills for Care, NHS Confederation, Age UK, Carers UK, Independent Age, CQC, the Health Foundation and the King’s Fund.

Social care is an area that is important to the BMA. The interaction between health and social care is crucial. One cannot work without the other.

We have been vocal in raising our concerns for social care and in September we published our report Calling for Action on Social Care in England urging the government to stop delaying plans to reform social care and address challenges for the sector.

For example, significantly boosting social care funding to not only allow services to cope with rapidly rising demand but also widen the access people have to care services. Investing in the workforce and valuing those who work in social care is important to ensure recruitment and retention of staff.

In addition, we urge government to place a greater focus on prevention and support to help people to stay independent for longer.

We hope the event will provide an opportunity to bring together experts in social care policy and delivery to progress this body of work and identify shared objectives and opportunities for collaborative working to fix social care in the UK.

Dr Helena McKeown is the British Medical Association’s Representative Body chair. This article originally appeared on the BMA’s website.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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