Save our Social Care – Keep our Social Care

Campaigns Social Care

It is encouraging in many ways to see that there are so many organisations that have been set up to defend the NHS locally and nationally, support the NHS, save the NHS, reinstate the NHS and to keep the NHS public. Many have done great campaigning work and kept at the forefront the guiding principles and values that we all support. Support for the NHS comes from trade unions, and political parties. It is essential that we continue to campaign for the NHS.

But what of social care?

The NHS has been through a difficult period coping with funding at its lowest level for decades. But it was protected from even deeper cuts elsewhere in the public sector and had roughly flat funding over the last parliament. Social care funding has been CUT by one third.

The NHS is seeing some increases in waiting times and some restrictions on access to ‘marginal’ services, but for the most part people can see their GP, they do get referred to hospital, they are seen far more quickly than they would have been even ten years ago, the ambulance turns up for emergencies, over 90% wait less than 4 hours in A&E; there has been no increase in scope for any charges, no general restrictions or rationing. The NHS is no longer improving and quality of care is beginning to be compromised by the current financial position. But more money is promised and additional early additional funding is being lined up through wheezes like raiding capital budgets.

Compare this with the fact that 400,000 people are being denied social care services they would have received just a couple of years ago. This also fails to count many more who no longer see any point in even applying for help. The threshold for providing care being applied by local authorities is getting ever more onerous and in many places only the most critical needs will even be considered for support. Cuts affect all age groups, not just the elderly; they affect those millions giving care as well as those who need the care.

Cuts in social security and restrictions around housing and all the other consequences of austerity just make these problems worse. And we know it is getting even worse still. In every part of the country the frail, elderly and vulnerable are suffering directly as a result of cuts to funding of social care – now. Support promised for those that carry out care and so contribute countless £bns has not been forthcoming.

As cuts in funding bite into the already privatised social care system we see poor terms and conditions for staff getting worse and we see private providers signalling their intention to pull out, often leaving huge problems for the local authorities to clear up.

Making things worse in the longer term are cuts to Public Health budgets which are about to be reduced yet again.

If the government kept its pledge to maintain NHS spending (which is highly questionable) they totally failed to meet their commitment to improve social care; changes promised in the Care Act will not now be implemented until 2020 if ever. The £6bn of funding promised to implement the Care Act changes has disappeared. We have heard no promises from the government about additional money for social care – if there is any it will only come from raiding NHS money.

The only time social care appears to get mentioned is when it is claimed that poor social care is making things more difficult for the NHS. This is important but not as important as the fact the millions are suffering unnecessarily.

Nobody voted for the destruction of our social care system. As one of the richest economies in the world we should be extending the scope and scale of publicly provided care not reducing it.

So it is time for the labour movement and the campaigners to have a wider view.

We have to campaign for a just and fair care system as a whole not just defend the NHS bit. There are no solutions to the current problems the NHS has to confront unless issues in all other parts of the care system are addressed.

So we need campaigns to save our social care with the same vigour and enthusiasm as we have seen for the NHS – and we need them soon.