THE BRITISH MEDICAL ASOCIATION (BMA) have responded to the government’s announcement on social care

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said: “The effectiveness of our healthcare system is hugely dependent on a safe and functional social care system with sufficient capacity, an issue which has been highlighted starkly by the Covid-19 pandemic. This funding of £12 billion a year, a figure the BMA estimated was needed in social care alone in our September 2020 paper, will go some way to meet the rising demand across health and social care while relieving pressure on an already over-stretched NHS.

“Currently gaps in the care available to people mean that the most vulnerable patients – often elderly and living with multiple long-term conditions – are more are risk of seeing their health worsening and requiring care in the NHS. These gaps also cause delays in discharging patients back into their communities, disrupting services, while poor care standards increase the likelihood of patients ending up back in hospital and further health problems.

“While today’s announcement of increased funding has been a long time coming, it’s extremely important that there is also additional funding on top of this to ensure equitable and better access to care, by providing more services free at the point of need. Widening access to care services can reduce the need for costly long-term care services and NHS care.

Dr Ivan Camphor, chair of the BMA’s community care committee, added: “Funding must also be invested in social care staff. Workforce shortages are a major issue for the sector with 122,000 vacancies in England alone. Social care staff should be provided with opportunities for salary and career progression and contracted with similar terms and conditions to their NHS colleagues.

“Finally, integration of local NHS, social care and community services could drastically help prevent people needing to go into a care home and need for NHS care. Funding should therefore be allocated to jointly commission these services, so that professionals can work together more effectively, and so resources can be used more efficiently.”

Oonagh Smythe, CEO of Skills for Care, said “The Government’s announcement today recognises the need to better value and develop the 1.5 million skilled and motivated people working in social care who support people in our communities and families every day to live the lives they choose.

“We welcome the investment of an initial £500 million over three years in the skills and learning of social care staff who deserve to be developed and have their skills recognised, investment in supporting staff wellbeing and in the continuing professional development for the regulated workforce such as nurses in social care who play such an important role.

“We are committed to working with DHSC and other partners on the workforce elements of the proposals, including how we can improve recruitment and retention across the sector as the numbers of workers we need continues to grow.

“And we look forward to working on longer term reform proposals and the increased investment in social care which will be needed in the future.”

* Read the BMA paper, Calling for action for social care in England, here.

* Source: British Medical Association