Labour conference: Jon Ashworth says social care is 'broken' and system an 'affront' to society

Social care is “broken” the Shadow Health Secretary has said, as he called the system “shameful” and an “affront to a civilised society”.

Jonathan Ashworth speaking at Labour Party conference in Brighton

Announcing that Labour would double current rates of spending on dementia research, Jon Ashworth told the party’s annual conference that “keeping people well means confronting something that casts a shadow over so many families.”

“It can start with forgetting little things, silly things, the keys, glasses, perhaps the day of the week,” Mr Ashworth said, but “there comes a moment when you see your loved one in difficulty trying to remember the steps involved in something so simple like making a cup of tea.”

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Describing the disease as “cruelly chang[ing] the person you love” he added: “When that diagnosis comes you’re often left abandoned to battle a complex, demoralising system only to be told - as 3,000 are every day – you or your loved one doesn’t qualify for care.

His comments in Brighton come just weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled plans to hike taxes to raise funds for the health and social care systems.

As the plans made their way through the House of Commons earlier in September, party leader Sir Keir Starmer said they were unfair on working people, leaving those in jobs such as care paying more, while landlords would not pay anything extra. "

Mr Ashworth’s Tuesday morning speech also praised footballer Marcus Rashford’s efforts to feed children on free school meals, Mr Ashworth condemned what he called “privatisation by the backdoor”, telling conference that patients are being forced to seek donations or take out loans to pay for operations.

He described a two-tier system where people “in pain and desperation” find ways to fund treatment, including £12,000 for a hip replacement or £9,000 for a knee operation.

He said: “The NHS is in crisis not simply because of Covid, the NHS is in crisis because of the Conservatives.

“It has the devastating consequence of forcing more and more people in pain and desperation to take out loans or crowdfund on the internet for donations to pay for an operation because the wait is too much to bear – £12,000 for a hip replacement, £9,000 for a knee replacement, £3,000 for a hernia.”