National Pensioners Convention calls for new publicly funded social care service

The National Pensioners Convention has joined calls for the introduction of a National Care Service, under which social care would be publicly funded.

Its new report says there has been a “systematic attempt to redefine illnesses affecting old age as “social” rather than “medical”, and to shift such patients from the NHS to local authorities” over the past four decades.

This has led to local authorities falling under increased strain, people being forced to sell their homes to pay for care, growing concerns about its quality and declining preventative community services, the NPC said.

The organisation represents around 1,000 local, regional and national pensioner groups across the UK – with a total of one million members.

Its report, Goodbye Cinderella: A New Settlement for Care Services, says: “The pandemic has exposed all of these failings; the care sector was already in extreme difficulties, especially given government austerity measures since 2010.

“There is every reason to be concerned about the future of care services; this level of neglect by government must never happen again.

“There is a way forward – through a National Care Service, free at the point of need, funded through taxation.

“It will restore dignity, respect and equality to older people and the generations that follow them.”

The proposed joined-up service would involve no division between health and social care provision and would require all employed care workers to register with a professional body.

It would include parity of illness and impairment, so people with dementia or other long-term conditions would not be means-tested for care, regardless of where they receive it.

And local authorities, the voluntary sector and the NHS would increasingly provide care to reduce the role of the private sector.

Professor David Oliver, former president of the British Geriatrics Society and former national clinical director for Older Peoples Services, said: “The NPC’s proposals are radical, but I think they are what is needed. Social care has been the poor relation, the Cinderella to the NHS, and yet there are more people using social care than are using the NHS hospitals.

“We have had over 20 years with people talking about solving the social care crisis, report after report, and yet no meaningful solutions have been put in place. Reform is discussed but then it’s kicked into the long grass.

“I think by asking for a National Care Service on the same footing as the NHS, based on need funded by taxation and NI, with an end to means testing, more integration and equal focus with the NHS, the NPC is saying all the right things.”

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