BORIS Johnson promised a cross-party approach to the social care and dementia crisis when the Prime Minister was pressed by The Yorkshire Post this week. Now longstanding campaigner Mike Padgham has written another open letter to the Tory leader.
Dear Mr Johnson,
Congratulations on being recently elected leader of the Conservative Party and our new Prime Minister.
On behalf of all the older and vulnerable adults in this country and the army of people who care for them – paid and unpaid – we now urge you to make social care your highest domestic priority and honour the commitments you gave on 10 Downing Street and then to The Yorkshire Post during your visit to Leeds.
The chronic underfunding of social care in the past decade has left 1.4m people without the care they need – a figure that is rising by the day. Care and nursing homes are closing and home-care agencies are handing back contracts because they are untenable to deliver.
During your leadership campaign you promised to make social care a priority, pledging to end the situation where people have to sell their home to pay for care. We now call upon you to be true to your word.
I wrote to your predecessor, Theresa May, and to various Ministers, inviting them to visit social care on the frontline and urging them to act on the issue, but with little response.
I repeat that invitation to you and would welcome you here in Yorkshire. Providers have many constructive solutions to input into the tackling of the crisis and I would be happy to share them with you.
Many previous governments have promised to tackle social care but have failed to deliver. This is your opportunity to be different and I hope you will be.
In the run-up to the leadership election, I wrote to you and to Jeremy Hunt outlining the reasons why urgent action is needed on social care and the form that action should take.
I reiterate that extra funding must be urgently invested in adult social care to stem the rise in those going without care. The long-delayed Green Paper on social care must be published or, better still, emergency measures put in place now and the Green Paper issued later.
And immediate action must be taken to tackle the scandal which currently denies dementia sufferers the same support as those with cancer or heart disease.
Recently the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) warned that the adult social care market is “increasingly fragile and failing” in some parts of the country and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee called for £8bn to be invested in it.
Only this month Dame Barbara Windsor, as an ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society, became the latest person to call upon you to “sort out” care for those with dementia.
More than a million people benefit from care in their own home or in a care or nursing home. But some 1.4m more are living without the care they need.
There is not only an irresistible human case for tackling the social care crisis, but a very clear economic one, too.
Investment in social care eases pressure on the NHS, keeping people in their own home or in care or nursing homes, rather than costly NHS hospital beds.
Social care employs 1.62m people – more than the NHS – and contributes £40.5bn to the economy in England. It could contribute even more with the right support. Indeed, it will have to, as the number of people needing care is expected to rise significantly in the coming years. The number of people aged over 85 in the UK is predicted to double by 2041 to 3.2m.
For all these reasons and many more, we therefore urge you to act swiftly and tackle the crisis in social care. The 1.4m people who aren’t getting the care they need deserve nothing less.