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Social care is in danger of an imminent collapse

A report from the Health for Care coalition warns Social care is in danger of an imminent collapse. A warning from health leaders says that it also risks ‘breaking the NHS’.

The report from the Heath for Care coalition warns: ‘The Government must fix social care or risk breaking the NHS too.’

The new coalition – which is led by the NHS Confederation and includes the Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Physicians and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges – said reform cannot be delayed any longer. The fifteen medical bodies that form the coalition joined forces to demand Boris Johnson ‘drastically overhauls’ social care after the broken system was ‘brutally exposed’ by the pandemic.

Failure to fix social care

It is now eighteen months since Boris Johnston in his first major speech as Prime Minister stood at the door of 10 downing Street and delivered a promise to fix social ‘fix social care once and all. He said then that he had a plan for social care, but this Government is yet to publish a plan for the sector.

The report urges the Government to provide a long-term funding settlement, to extend the eligibility criteria so many more patients can receive support, and to fix the workforce crisis.

Failure to fix social care blamed for significant death toll

Experts believe the failure to reform the crumbling care system is a major reason Britain has suffered Europe’s worst death toll.

Of the 103,000 people in the UK who have died from Covid-19, one in three – 31,000 – lived in care homes.

The report warns social care spending has fallen by 12 per cent in the past decade, with 1.4 million adults missing out on vital support. This has devastating consequences for the NHS, as vulnerable patients end up in A&E needlessly and become ‘stranded’ in hospital beds.

Currently there are an estimated 112,000 empty social care posts. The report says: ‘Unpaid carers bear the brunt, often at great cost to their own health wellbeing. Free care is tightly rationed, and the financial costs can be catastrophic for families.’

No visible or tangible progress on reform

Lead author Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Despite the promises of Boris Johnston to fix the crisis in social care once and for all” and despite decades of delay, the Government has not made any visible or tangible progress on this issue. 

'Without social care reform, with a clear and transparent timetable for delivery set out, and backed up by a long-term funding settlement, not only will the NHS and social care continue to run at near breaking point through the pandemic, but they will struggle to address the long-term health and social care issues the pandemic leaves in its wake.’

Sister services

According to Danny Mortimer The NHS and social care are sister services that rely on each other. If you want a functioning, effective NHS, you need a strong and sustainable social care sector.’


Jonathan Steel, Royal College of Physicians: ‘How we look after our older people defines our values as a nation – there is a moral imperative to get this right.’


It seems that over the years many organisations have never stopped banging the drum in attempting to concentrate the minds of those in government to address the need for reform in social care, with little result. Let alone the promises of Boris Johnson that have not amounted to a can of beans.

However, the report by the Health for Care coalition adds a new dimension to what has gone before. It blames the failure to reform the crumbling care system as a major reason Britain has suffered Europe’s worst death toll during the pandemic. A third of which has occurred in care homes. The report also stresses the importance of social care to the NHS

A government spokesman has said that we can expect some news later in the year, but we all remember we were given the same message about the Green Paper, which never saw the light of day. Why is it that Germany and Japan have addressed this problem and reformed funding of social care, while we dither, take no action and many people are left to suffer when there is a solution to be found?

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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