Campaigners have backed a call to create a new National Care Service, which was an idea first put forward by the Labour Party in 2022. The service would be on a par with the National Health Service that was introduced by the Labour government in 1945.

The principle of a publicly owned and funded service would be equivalent to the scale and ambition of the NHS. Supporters claim that this will drive up standards of care in care and nursing homes, and offer better conditions for staff. The service would be free at point of use and may lead to a significant restructuring of the care home sector.

The Scottish government have already outlined plans for a national care service, which would not be nationalised but would require greater accountability for care providers to government ministers. 

Care Home Professional reports that the National Care Service in England is supported by the Independent Care Group (ICG) and the public service union UNISON. The union have said that the new service would reduce the long waits for care, address low pay in the sector, and put an end to inadequate 15-minute home visits.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Social care is broken. The current fragmented and privatised system is unfit to meet the needs of everyone who needs support. But a better way is possible.”

“Care workers are the beating heart of a system that should be able to look after everyone’s loved ones with compassion and kindness. But without the cash or sufficient staff, the sector is struggling to deliver, putting unbearable pressure on the NHS and families.”

“If the country is to have a care service of which it can be truly proud, care workers must be valued, recognised and rewarded as the skilled professionals they are. That requires radical change. Too many families are suffering because they can’t access the support they need and because care isn’t seen as the priority it should be by the current government.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest, no matter how old they are, that England has a national care service. That’s why it’s so important for all the country’s parliamentary candidates to publicly pledge their support.”

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We have long campaigned for a National Care Service and support UNISON’s call to get all prospective MPs behind the idea.

“The current system isn’t working, social care is in crisis with 1.6m people going without care, 152,000 vacancies in the sector and providers closing or handing back delivery contracts.”

He added: “A National Care Service, supported by proper funding, is the minimum we should be looking for from our politicians as they put together their manifestos for the General Election.”

The Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, has already publicly declared his support for a National Care Service. The Fabian Society have published a comprehensive plan on how the new service would be delivered in England. The idea was first proposed in the last term of the Labour government in 2010, and was revived in Jeremy Corbyn’s 2019 Manisfesto.

However, the Fabian Society’s report is independent of political parties and is described as a blueprint for a potential future care service. The society comments that the plans are necessary to address the sharp drop in spending on care in relation to rising need, which has created a situation where many people can’t access the support they need.

They call for a comprehensive reform of the system rather than just the injection of extra funding. The detailed report makes a total of 48 recommendations to overhaul adult social in England.

The key principles include universal access to the service regradless of means; automatic referral for disabled people and their carers; stronger citizen’s rights for people to have more control of their type of care and where they live; more rights and flexibility for unpaid carers; a sector-wide fair pay agreement; and new quality standards for care services. 

There would be a long-term and sustainable approach to financial management rather than the current cycle of underfunding propped up by emergency cash injections. 


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2024-05-22T16:19:38+00:00February 29th, 2024|Blog|
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