The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has joined a coalition of 15 health organisations in calling on the UK government to create a sustainable social care system in England.
Health for Care, led by the NHS Confederation, wants a fair funding settlement, which puts social care on a sustainable path for the longer term, as well as addressing immediate needs from April 2020.
According to the coalition, this will require secure funding commitments, a workforce strategy and a diverse and stable market of providers.
In order to achieve this, Health for Care has developed a set of principles to help inform the government that underpins a sustainable social care system, together with three recommendations to the prime minister that it believes are critical to achieving a long-term settlement:
- Eligibility should be based on need and must be widened to make sure that those with unmet or under-met need have access to appropriate care and support.
- Any new settlement should provide secure, long-term, funding at a level to enable the social care system to operate effectively and deliver the outcomes that people want and need, and,
- Any significant additional funds must come with a willingness to reform and improve the ways in which care is delivered. Social care services and the NHS are working together to transform and integrate local care services, but they can only go so far when services are being placed under so much strain.
The coalition comprises NHS Confederation, NHS Clinical Commissioners, Mental Health Network, NHS Providers, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Richmond Group of Charities, Patients Association, Royal College of General Practitioners, Shelford Group; University Hospitals Association; National Association of Primary Care, British Geriatrics Society, Royal College of Physicians, Healthwatch and National Voices.
RCP clinical vice president Professor David Oliver said: “Only by finding a sustainable solution to how we fund and provide social care can we ensure that our hospitals are able to cope with ever-increasing pressures. Finding alternatives to avoidable hospital admissions and delays to discharge will be good for patients and good for overstretched hospital doctors and their colleagues too.”
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: “Everyone’s mind is elsewhere just now, but this is a national scandal and a national disgrace. Record numbers of older people are being left to struggle each day without the care and support they need.”
“Our goal should be to deliver a settlement for social care in England that will last for generations. The promised green paper and autumn spending review present an essential opportunity to invest in social care over the longer term, as the government is now investing in the NHS.
“Whatever proposals are included in the green paper, they must address the central issue of widening eligibility.”
The work of Health for Care builds on analysis commissioned by the NHS Confederation from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Health Foundation which found that social care funding would need to increase by 3.9% a year just to meet the needs of an ageing population and an increasing number of younger adults living with disabilities.