It is a positive step that the government has published proposals around the long-term future of adult social care in the UK. There has been too much uncertainty for too long, uncertainty that causes worry and anxiety for some of our most vulnerable residents and their families.
Surrey County Council will now be working to ensure the voices of all our residents are heard. We await more detail on the reforms, and how the money will be divided between the NHS and local government, particularly in the first year of the new health and social care levy. It is vital that this money is not swallowed into the overall health budget, but rather passed on to those authorities tasked with delivering social care services. It should also be noted that money is just one part of the solution – there are other things that need immediate attention, primarily a proper plan around workforce.
Additionally, if the government wishes to enable the NHS to recover quickly from the pandemic and reduce waiting times, the adult social care system will require additional resources next year. This will not only smooth hospital discharges, but will ensure the kind of care that avoid hospital admissions in the first place. This will, in turn, alleviate the pressure on our Accident and Emergency services and free up capacity for elective work to increase. We must not view it as a case of “first the NHS, then social care” but rather as one system that needs to advance together.
Surrey County Council is looking forward to continuing to work with the government as it finalises its proposals, and on the upcoming white paper. This way we can ensure local authorities remain at the heart of delivering this vital service that enables vulnerable residents to live the lives they choose and that they are protected from huge care costs.