THE fact that our buckling social care system has once again been exposed will come as little surprise to regular readers of this newspaper.
It is a crisis that has been brewing for a long time and as so often is the case it’s the anguished families desperately trying to find suitable homes for their frail and elderly relatives who end up suffering the most.
Mounting cuts to social care provision have led to one in five nursing home places being cut in some parts of Yorkshire. The situation has led to a stark warning from the Care Quality Commission which has described the future of care in this country as “precarious.” Given that it costs twice as much to keep someone in a hospital bed as it does to provide a space in a nursing home, it makes no sense reducing the number of nursing home beds.
The Chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged to make more money available to the NHS, setting aside a further £2.8bn in last month’s Budget, though he failed to address the glaring deficiencies in social care provision in his setpiece speech.
However, is not simply a question of money. If Britain is to find a lasting solution to the well-documented shortcomings in the NHS, it is imperative that the Government unites health and social care and puts an end to patients being shunted between doctors in hospitals and community services.
Ministers have said they will publish plans for a long overdue social care strategy next summer. That is a start at least, though it offers little comfort to those valiantly working on the frontline with limited resources in the meantime.
With Christmas almost upon us we should spare a thought for social care staff, and their colleagues in hospitals up and down the country, who will be working over the festive season while others enjoy precious time with their families. We owe them our thanks and support.