A cross-party alliance of politicians have warned the government that the United Kingdom is on the brink of a social care crisis as funding for the care of the elderly is deteriorating.
“The social care crisis is real and it is happening right now. The government cannot ignore it any longer if we are to truly have a society that works for everyone,” the group said in a letter to The Observer.
More than half of UK councils tasked with care for the elderly have had at least one residential and nursing care provider closed in the last six months as figures show the system is close to meltdown.
Chancellor Philip Hammond came under fire after failing to allocate more money to social care in his Autumn Statement last week, with the head of the NHS Confederation saying it was “disappointing” and a “mistake”.
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The warning by leaders of the four main political groups in local government to British Prime Minister Theresa May came after Chancellor Philip Hammond dismissed talk of a crisis in spite of calls from politicians, National Health Service (NHS) leaders, doctors and others.
Over 50 percent of councils tasked with looking after the elderly – 77 out of 152 – have had at least one residential and nursing care provider shut down during the past six months, according to figures obtained by The Observer.
Forty-eight councils have reported at least one company providing care for the elderly in their own home forced to close, the data shows.
Fifty-nine councils also sought new care arrangements after providers deemed contracts to be insufficiently funded to satisfy the needs.
“The fact the government appears to have chosen not to act will lower the quality of life for our elderly and vulnerable residents,” the cross-party group said.
Unless extra money to close a £2.6bn funding gap is injected urgently, “the quality and safety of care of our elderly is at risk and the vulnerable will increasingly struggle to receive the help they need to meet basic needs such as washing, dressing or getting out of bed,” it added.
The chair of the Commons Health Select Committee, Dr. Sarah Wollaston, and four other MPs have recently written an open letter to Hammond saying May’s claims of £10bn in extra funding created the “false impression” the health service had sufficient money.
“Numerous sources testify to the impact of the real terms cuts to social care, not only to the vulnerable people who rely on care, but also on NHS service,” Wollaston said.