As a country our social care needs are increasing every day. We are living longer but are spending more years with illness and disability. Yet the social care budget was cut by £1.6bn between 2010 and 2015. Taking into account rising prices and growing demand, in reality government investment in care fell by £4.6bn over that time.
The results were entirely predictable and are now clear for all to see: more than 1m older, ill and disabled people aren’t getting the care they need, and are struggling to cope at home. Inevitably this has piled the pressure on hospitals, now severely overstretched and unable to safely manage the displaced demand of people with nowhere else to turn.
All the while costs to the NHS are accruing. Nearly 650,000 hospital bed days were lost last year because people can’t get the help they need elsewhere. This has also put huge stress on health and care staff and, of course, causes heartache for those individuals and their families. Increasingly it means those who fund their own care are paying the price, often literally, for a failing care market as well.
This situation cannot go on and we have come together to urge the government to use its forthcoming autumn statement to finally give social care the funding priority it deserves. This means immediate funding to stabilise the current system and real steps towards creating a sustainable funding settlement for the future.
Unless this happens we fear for the future of the many ill, disabled and older people our organisations exist to serve. Time is running out.
SECHA agrees with and endorses the view of The Sunday Times