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How long must we continue to wait for the publication of the Green Paper

The NHS Long Term Plan. It is absolutely right that this plan focuses on prevention, but until the Government addresses the crisis in social care, the success of the NHS plan will be severely limited. The plan recognises that health and social care go hand-in-hand, highlighting the Government’s commitment “to ensure that adult social care funding is such that it does not impose any additional pressure on the NHS over the coming five years." Alongside a long-term plan for the NHS we need to see proposals for radical reform and long-term funding that addresses the care needs of today and delivers a new social care system for the future. Proposals for a public consultation to address the crisis in adult social care were first announced in March 2017. In 2018 the Government promised that the Green Paper would be in our stockings by Christmas, having already been postponed on four separate occasions. Once again social care is the Cinderella service – never getting the attention or resources it needs compared to healthcare. The Government hasn’t given any proper explanation as to why the Green Paper has been postponed yet again. Latest reports indicate it will follow the NHS Long-term plan in the coming weeks, however, we still have no confirmation when this will be exactly. The Government must set out a clear timetable for consultation and implementation of social care reform during this Parliament. This is a problem we cannot afford to push down the priority list any further. Between 2009/10 and 2015/16 the number of people receiving publicly funded social care services fell by 400,000 and there are now an estimated 1.4 million older people are not getting the care and support they need. Our ageing population means social services and the NHS will continue to face unprecedented pressures. Any further delays in tackling these issues means yet more older people will be left without adequate social care, leading to unnecessary stays in hospital, and further demands on stretched Accident and Emergency services, as well as our wider NHS services. While the Government has kicked social care reform into the long grass over and over again, organisations such as Independent Age have continued to see social care as a priority and put forward concrete reforms. Its report “A Taxing Question” offers credible solutions to ensuring adequate funding of social care for the decades ahead, with the introduction of free personal care in England for older people. This policy will enable older people to live independent lives for as long as possible, reduce delays in transfers of care (the time spent unnecessarily in hospital), and promote further integration of health and social care.

Summary The chaotic events surrounding Brexit during the past week does not fill one with confidence that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will at last publish the long overdue Green Paper. While we wait people, who need social care will be denied the care many so desperately need. And we will continue to see the closure of care homes. The publication of The NHS Long Term Plan is to be welcomed, but if the future of closer integration between health and social care is to be realised would it not have sent a clear message to the social care industry of future working relationships, if the Green Paper had been published at the same time. Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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