Care integration ‘meaningless’ without social care reform

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG), said the health and social care committee’s new care integration plans are just ‘baby steps’ towards proper reform of the way we care for older and vulnerable adults.

A report from the health and social care committee has backed plans for the creation of Integrated Care Systems, bringing health and social care together to improve care. It includes a call for a 10-year plan for social care.

The report’s proposals are a move in the right direction but proper reform of social care must happen first otherwise the new systems will be meaningless.

The government must first better fund and reform social care to help the 1.5m who can’t get the care they need and pave the way for integration.

The report is right, in that we do need to integrate health and social care, but in reality, these are just baby steps when we need a giant leap forward.

We need to see urgent, root and branch reform of social care with an injection of funding to create a fit for purpose, sustainable social care sector that has parity with NHS healthcare in terms of status and standing.

Only when that happens will we be able to move towards integration and at that point we need to see a single body delivering both NHS healthcare and social care and not the central and local authority split we have at the moment.

At the moment we are talking about redecorating the house whilst the roof is still leaking.

Reports like this, while correct and important, also act as a smokescreen and stop us from seeing that real reform is just not happening.

I am also concerned that this is also yet more costly bureaucratic change. In the past few years alone, we have had primary care groups, primary care trusts, clinical commissioning groups and now integrated care systems.

The time and resources used on creating ever-more complex bureaucracy could have been far better spent on front line services or on proper social care reform for the future.

The ICG recently wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to make social care reform a priority.

In the ICG’s letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Padgham says 1.5m people are now living without the care they need after £8bn was cut from social care budgets since 2010-11. There are more than 100,000 staff vacancies in the sector.

The ICG wants to see a promise of urgent reform backed by proper deadlines. It wants:

  • A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
  • NHS care and social care to be merged and managed either locally or nationally
  • Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance
  • Dementia treated like other high priority illnesses, like cancer and heart disease
  • A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
  • Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT.

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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