Sir, Theresa May must act on the Care Quality Commission’s stark warning that adult social care in England is approaching a tipping point (“Abandoned pensioners swamping A&E”, Oct 13). Allowing the axe to fall on social care, in the context of an ageing population, is economic illiteracy, piling greater pressure on an already overstretched NHS.
The system is on life support. Providers are scaling back their services and increasingly withdrawing from the market altogether. The consequences will be brutal, particularly for the elderly and people with disabilities. The prime minister must surely arrange for emergency funding in the autumn statement. In the longer term, difficult decisions must be made on a cross-party basis about how much tax we are prepared to pay to guarantee that our loved ones get care when they need it. A new settlement for the NHS and care is desperately needed, and we should consider the case for a dedicated health and care tax as part of that.
Norman Lamb MP
Lib Dem health spokesman, and health minister 2012-15
Sir, The Care Quality Commission’s report rightly draws attention to the adverse impact on A&E units resulting from unmet demand for social care. What is also becoming obvious to employers is the cost of increasing numbers of staff taking time off work to provide care for their elderly relatives. Not only is this a drain on businesses but an extra layer of challenge for the public sector — those very staff struggling in A&E are also the ones juggling the care of their ageing parents.
Sir, Stephen Dorrell is right: to support a growing ageing population which is often in poor health, we need to fund public health and social care properly if we are to relieve the pressure on the NHS (report, Oct 11).
In Staffordshire we have been integrating NHS and social care since 2012. We have had many successes, but a key challenge has been trying to rebalance funding away from acute services in the care of the NHS policy of protecting funding for hospitals. This has restricted our ability to invest in services in the community that give people the help they need earlier, thus avoiding the point where acute care is the only option.
Councils need to work with the NHS to promote better health choices, but fundamentally we have to not just talk about integrated health and social care, we have to deliver it and, even more crucially, fund it.
Councillor Alan White
Staffordshire County Council
Sir, The CQC’s assessment should be a wake-up call to the government that health is not just about the NHS, it is about a range of services which must join together to support people.
It will be impossible to sustain health services without investment in social care, public health, and the vital supports provided by the voluntary and community sector. The autumn statement is an opportunity for the prime minister and chancellor to show that they take this issue seriously, in particular by committing to increase funding for social care.
CEO, National Voices, a coalition of health and social care charities
Sir, Care for older people is in crisis and this crisis is having a profoundly damaging effect on the NHS (“Policy Prescription”, leading article, Oct 11). Keeping older people out of hospital, looked after in their homes and communities, is key to a sustainable NHS. To deliver this requires integrated health and care.
However, integration in itself will not deliver better care for everyone unless we fund care properly and fund care like health — free at the point of need and delivered by a valued, well-paid and well-trained workforce.
Director, United for All Ages and Good Care Guide