Care chiefs’ message to Osborne: we fear a wave of homes closing down
John Bingham writing in The Telegraph: Health and social care chiefs are demanding a crisis meeting with George Osborne and Jeremy Hunt to avert what they fear could be a wave of care home closures within months after years of spending cuts.
Leaders of four separate organisations representing council and NHS bodies have written to the Chancellor and Health Secretary, warning that plans unveiled in the recent spending review fall short of what is needed to avert disaster in the care system in England.
They also question whether £6 billion originally earmarked for reform of the care system under the Coalition government has been quietly diverted into other spending areas.
“What happened to the £6 billion originally earmarked for the full implementation of the Care Act?”
Care chiefs’ letter to ministers
Crucially, they fear that the introduction of the new National Living Wage, being phased in from next spring, could tip care providers over the edge financially unless extra cash is forthcoming.
“There is the potential for significant and adverse impacts … including an acceleration of the failure of domiciliary, residential and nursing home providers.”
While spending on the NHS has been protected throughout Mr Osborne’s austerity cuts, councils which are responsible for care for elderly and disabled people have seen their budgets slashed by around 40 per cent.
The warning came in a letter jointly signed by the leaders of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass); the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS bodies; the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of 75 charities, and the Care Provider Alliance.
“Ultimately the package put forward for social care will not enable us to fill the current gap in funding, cover additional costs associated with the introduction of the National Living Wage, nor fully meet future growth in demand due to our ageing population,” they wrote.
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: “The NHS is not an island, it is part of a single system.
“Without sufficient investment in social care the sustainability of the NHS is called into question.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, of the Local Government Association, said: “We are now on the fast-track towards a care home collapse, leaving our elderly friends and family in care limbo, not knowing where they will go if a care home closes.
“It cannot be left solely to local council taxpayers to fix our chronically underfunded social care system.
“If proper funding for social care is not urgently addressed, essential services will remain increasingly at risk and the full needs of older and disabled people and their carers who require vital care and support will not be met.”
“It’s simply a case of how bad is it going to get!“