HEALTHCARE NEWS

Health and wellbeing of vulnerable people 'at risk'

The health and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable people in England is at risk from a "deepening crisis" in the care sector.

This is according to a joint submission to the Treasury, signed by leaders of councils, the NHS, care providers and charities, who fear for the future for the elderly and those with disabilities.

The BBC reports that the correspondence - which has been sent ahead of November's Spending Review - calls for funding for local councils for this area to be protected, as it is under the NHS.

In response, the government pointed to plans that are currently being devised to make sure there is greater cooperation and relieve some of the pressure being felt by the care sector.

However, the organisations that have signed the submission claim that this is not enough and the future is still unclear. They believe that the sector is very fragile, as councils have been coerced into freezing fees, leading to care providers leaving the industry.

The letter goes on to note that this is driving up prices for those that pay for the care themselves and causing fewer people to be approved for state-funded support, which is critical to their health and wellbeing.

An additional £8 billion has been promised by the Tory government every year for the NHS by 2020, but has not pledged a penny for social care alone.

One of the signatories, Ray James, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, told the BBC: "It is vitally important that this year's Spending Review understands the importance of our services to vulnerable people.

"The near-certainty is that without adequate and sustained finances our ability to carry out our will be in jeopardy."

Social care is provided in a person's home or residential unit and, unlike the NHS, it is not free for everyone, just the poorest applicants. Around 1.3 billion older and disabled people received this support in 2014, down by 500,000 compared to 2010.

According to the Local Government Association, if no extra money is provided by the government there will be a shortfall of £4 billion in care services by 2020 - and this is before the implications of the national living wage is considered.