NHS chief warns Boris Johnson to fix social crisis within a year so elderly are given 'dignity in old age'
BORIS Johnson has been urged to fix the country’s social care crisis within the next 12 months.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said plans to “properly fund” social care should be in place within a year to ensure the elderly are given “dignity in old age”.
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He insisted the legacy of Britain’s coronavirus crisis must be to “decisively answer” how we will look after the nation’s ageing population with “high-quality social care”.
And as the NHS celebrated its 72nd birthday, he blasted poor pay and working conditions for staff as being part of the problem.
Sir Simon, 54, wants a “properly resourced adult social care system with proper workforce support”.
His outspoken comments pile pressure on the Prime Minister to unveil proposals to solve the crisis.
Mr Johnson was elected on a pledge to launch cross-party talks on the issue within 100 days of the vote — but he has failed to act more than six months on.
He promised no one will have to sell their home to get the care they need in later life.
Yet, he has not set out details and warned that the new system could take years to implement.
But Sir Simon said the issue must now be a priority for the Government in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, which has seen 20,000 of those in care homes lose their lives.
He said: “If any good is to come from this, we must resolve once and for all to actually properly resource and reform the way in which social care works in this country.
“I hope by the time we are sitting down next year, on the 73rd birthday of the NHS, we have been able to answer how we’re going to fund and provide high-quality social care for my parents’ generation. The reality is, after at least two decades of talking, we do not have a fair and properly resourced adult social care system with a proper set of workforce supports.
“If you have a quarter of your social care staff on zero-hours contracts, when you have a one-third churn in employment each year, that is not the preconditions for being able to provide high-quality care.”
Comparing the UK’s recovery from coronavirus to the post-War period, Sir Simon added: “The founders of the NHS did not hesitate. They said, ‘Let one of the legacies of the war be the creation of the NHS’.
“That’s the same legacy we need for long-term care coming out of coronavirus.” William Beveridge, founder of the UK’s welfare state, devised a Five Giants blueprint after World War Two.
His list to tackle was: Want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.
Sir Simon said: “If Beveridge were writing his report today, he would talk about a sixth, which is dignity in old age.”
Downing Street on Sunday refused to set a timetable for its plan but said it could come before the end of July.
A source said: “This is clearly something we need to get on with.”
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