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By Debbie le Quesne

Former health minister appeals to save social care

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Former Conservative health minister Dr Dan Poulter is calling on Theresa May and MPs to act to save the NHS and the social care system from collapse.

Dr Poulter, who stepped down from the Department of Health last year and now works both as an MP and as a part-time NHS doctor, said his experience inside hospitals had convinced him that radical, long-term funding solutions for the health and care sectors are “urgently required”.

Quoting from an article in the Observer, he says: “On the hospital wards I often see people who are medically fit to go home, but who are forced to stay in hospital because of difficulties arranging their social care package or because of a lack of appropriate housing. Good healthcare cannot be delivered without properly funded social care.”

Have we heard this a million times before?

He adds: “A long-term plan to ensure a properly funded and sustainable health and social care system is urgently required, and I believe a health and care tax – perhaps introduced through raising national insurance – offers one of the simplest ways forward.”

Dr Poulter’s appeal comes amid growing frustration over the government’s approach to social care and how to fund it.

I note that in the Conservative manifesto last year, former prime minister David Cameron promised to introduce a cap of £72,000 on the care costs for each individual, after which the state would pay. But soon after polling day, he delayed the scheme to 2020 because money was not available.

One of the key players in steering the plan for a cap through parliament, Dr Poulter said that with public finances unlikely to improve, the much-vaunted policy had little chance of being implemented.

Why am I not surprised!

Quote: “Given that the introduction of a cap was considered unaffordable a year ago, and that the costs of social care continue to increase, there is now little prospect of the cap being introduced at all.”

He is now suggesting a special tax that will guarantee an income stream, rather than policies like the cap which are entirely dependent on the economic climate of the moment.

The call has has been seized upon by the King’s Fund think-tank which is asking for a “frank and open debate” on how to fund health and social care on a sustainable basis into the future.

No doubt Dr Poulton’s call and the King’s Fund response will be another challenge for Mrs May to meet after the leaked story on how NHS bosses were drawing up plans for hospital closures, cutbacks and radical changes to the way healthcare is delivered in an attempt to meet spiralling demand and plug the hole in its finances.

“The government needs to get to grips with the scale of the social care crisis. The reality is that at least a million people aren’t getting the basic care they need. One million hospital days were lost to delayed discharge in 2015, costing the NHS £2.4bn, and it’s estimated that the money spent by the NHS on excess bed days due to people awaiting homecare could fund 5.2 million hours of homecare. The latest figures show that at least £1bn is needed for social care this year – just to keep things as they are,” the doctor says.

 

Last year’s Conservative manifesto pledged an extra £8bn a year for the NHS by the end of this parliament, as demanded by the NHS chief executive, Simon Stevens, in his 2014 “five-year forward view”. But Stevens made clear that was the minimum money required, and radical reforms to the way healthcare is delivered would also be necessary to make the NHS hit its budgets.

Like no time before we need a leader to champion our cause. Mrs May, would you step up the plate?

 

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Written by debbielq

September 7, 2016 at 9:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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