Last week I took part in the Granada Debate programme on ITV to discuss health and social care services. The programme contained a shocking report about the crisis we face.
Alongside interviews with a range of health professionals, the report stated, ‘Experts predict this winter will be the worst the NHS has ever faced. Some claim the funding crisis in social care, an aging population and a shortage of doctors and nurses could bring the system close to collapse.’
Well funded and well run social care services are a vital part of avoiding a bed blocking crisis. Social care is currently funded via local government, and many local councils have been hit with huge cuts under the Tories.
Rochdale Council have suffered huge government cuts of £200 million in the last 6 years, and social care budgets face even more pressure in the years to come as the Council is forced to save a further £40 million. The social care precept of 2% on council tax this year will only raise around £1.4 million, and as Council services are stripped to the bone by government it is sadly inevitable that important frontline services such as social care will eventually be effected.
Across the country, cuts to social care services will inevitably have a knock-on effect on the NHS and make the bed blocking problem worse as patients are forced to stay in hospital for longer because they are unable to get the support they need at home.
I was pleased to be able to appear on the Granada Debate programme to talk about this issue, but words are not enough. The government must act to give health and social care services the investment and protection they desperately need, and long term we must fully integrate health and social care, as Labour’s former Health Secretary and Greater Manchester Mayoral candidate Andy Burnham first proposed some years ago.