Tackling the tusker
By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson
In recent months, as the panjandrums of social care gathered in lofty glasshouses and chatted amiably over the Grand Gaillard and vol-au-vents, an increasing number of them have been heard to mutter “I say, I don’t want alarm anybody, but can you smell elephant?”
Yes indeed, the high-ups in ADASS and in the various NHS bodies had all begun darting worried looks at each other as yet another bowl of peanuts went missing and massive indentations appeared in Whitehall carpets.
And now, in its State of Social Care Report, even the Care Quality Commission (never strong on exotic animal recognition) has finally, with trembling finger, pointed at the pachyderm.
The elephant that is the underfunding of social care is now recognised by all. It is acknowledged to be real and not just the self-serving construct of profit-mongering private providers crying wolf. Average local authority fee levels are down 6% on what they were five years ago, four hundred thousand fewer people are receiving publicly funded social care than was the case five years ago and providers are handing back local authority contracts because they cannot deliver the services on the fees offered. Some providers have shut up shop and there is real concern that one or more major providers may soon go to the wall. Demand for care home beds is now outstripping supply.
Even the Government will sit up and take notice. And take action – it must unless it wants to see the NHS devolve into a geriatric support service. Well, forgive my cynicism but social care has always been a grey area of government responsibility and its hitherto hands-off approach has significantly pruned the social care budget, turning self-pay social care into a growth industry. May not the same thing happen with acute healthcare if only the Government has the nerve to sit on its hands and do nothing?
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.