Personal care should be a private matter

Posted on December 15th, by geoff in CT blog. 2 comments

By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson

Last week we had confirmation that local authorities spent £100m less on residential and nursing home care in 2013/14 than they did the previous year.

The confirmation from the Health & Social Care Information Centre wasn’t news; we all know that numbers of State-funded residents have been dwindling and the much forecast two-tier market is well and truly with us.

Care providers looking to build new capacity see local authorities as being increasingly irrelevant once a new care home is up and running. One upside is that the role of local authorities as ‘market managers’ (something they never did well) has now been extinguished – but this is vastly outweighed by the downsides.

The Government’s laissez faire approach to the care home sector means bed shortages in some areas are becoming marked as developers look to build in locations where they can attract a preponderantly private-pay clientele. And where do frail elderly people wind up if there are no care home beds? In hospital.

England has about three hospital beds per fifty thousand citizens – the third lowest provision in the western world. It is almost a no-brainer that, had we a functional social care sector which was able to provide intermediate care/reablement/stepdown/whateveryouwanttocallit services, then we might have a chance at having an affordable NHS that was fit for purpose.

But this isn’t going to happen until politicians have the courage to challenge the attitude of ‘NHS good/private bad’ and governments frame policies to encourage private investment in social care services, thereby freeing-up the NHS to do its job.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

2 responses to “Personal care should be a private matter”

  1. Bob Ferguson says:

    If providers do in fact consider councils to be “increasingly irrelevant” they are almost certainly jumping the gun. The Care Act enables self funders to ask authorities to arrange their care – they would hope at public rates – thereby signalling an end to “cross subsidy” through the primary fee. As ever, top ups will be available to fill the gap. But the suggestion that self funders will somehow inoculate providers against council influence – market management or market shaping, call it what you like – is wide of the mark.

    The local government establishment is worried about the potential of this development to destabilise local markets, with good cause. Providers and their representatives should be equally concerned.

  2. geoff says:

    That’s all very true Bob. I should have made it clear that that providers see them increasingly irrelevant in terms of them being a major customer. Potential self-pay market and staff availability have eclipsed local authority purchasing and fee rates as major concerns for providers looking to build new capacity.

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