Delayed social care green paper ’embarrassingly long-running saga’, Lord Laming

Repeatedly delayed moves to tackle the country’s social care crisis has become “an embarrassingly long-running saga”, according to a former watchdog.

Lord Laming, who was chief inspector of social services from 1991 until 1998, made the criticism as the Government came under pressure at Westminster over when the long-awaited social care green paper will be published.

The document, which will outline Government policy on the future of adult social care, was originally promised in 2017, but has been beset by hold-ups.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Health Minister Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford insisted that the green paper remained a priority for the Government and that it would be published “at the earliest opportunity”.

But Lord Laming (pictured) said: “I feel sure the Minister will agree that this has become an embarrassingly long-running saga.

“I am sure the whole house will agree that the people who depend upon these services are the most vulnerable in our society and have such high-dependency needs that they ought to have the security of knowing that their well-being and safety is being properly attended to.

“Will she use all her influence to make sure that these people get the security and peace of mind that they deserve?”

Lady Blackwood said: “I am absolutely delighted to offer him my assurance that we will work as hard as we can to deliver the most effective and most deliverable green paper we can.

“He is absolutely right that the most vulnerable people within our society depend on the effectiveness not only of social care services but the integration of social care services with our public health services and the (NHS) long-term plan.

“That is why it is encouraging that social care sits right at the heart of the long-term plan and why it is well integrated with the other commitments within the plan to improve outcomes for major diseases and including measures to support older people, through more personalised care and stronger community and primary care services.

“These will improve outcomes and reduce the demand on social care, and that is exactly the kind of holistic approach that we want to see.”

Opposition spokesman Baroness Wheeler pointed out that the Government had promised to deliver the green paper in 2017.

This followed its decision to ditch the introduction of a cap on lifetime social care charges and a more generous means-test proposed by the Dilnot Commission, which had cross-party support.

Lady Wheeler said: “The Alzheimer’s Society has estimated that, over the past 26 months, there have been more than half a million delayed transfers of care for people affected by dementia, nearly three billion hours of unpaid care have been provided and, at any one point, more than 120,000 people with dementia in England receive no help from social care or family carers.

“Emergency cash injections do not address the chronic underfunding of local services, change eligibility criteria or help people plan for future care needs.”

Lady Blackwood said: “I know that she will agree that decisions on future reforms must be aligned.

“That is precisely why the (NHS) long-term plan and the upcoming social care green paper have been considered alongside each other.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Wikipedia.