Tag Archives: social care

LibLink: Sal Brinton; The NHS can’t work without a sustainable social care system

As the NHS turned 70 this week, Sal Brinton looked back at the development of social care policy and outlined the Government’s failings:

… since 2015, the new Conservative Government has dithered and delayed, repeatedly promising that they would sort out the social care funding problem.

We still await the Green Paper promised in the Conservative 2017 Manifesto – with a side skirmish of the Dementia Tax, a form of inverse Dilnot, which so outraged voters it was dropped mid election.

Councils have faced massive cuts to all services, including making £6bn savings in adult social care since 2010. They are still being

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82% back increase in taxes to fund NHS

Several NHS stories have caught my eye over the past week, and I wanted to bring them together into a blog that emphasises, yet again, that our NHS needs funding, and needs it soon. I have a heightened awareness now, having travelled the length and breadth of North Devon over recent weeks and seen the lack of provision in the communities there, with the nearest hospital for some being an hour away – and the nearest hospital for many non-urgent appointments being two hours away.

The NHS matters to all of us and needs sorting. We as Lib Dems are proposing a 1p rise in income tax to fund health and social care services. A poll announced yesterday in the Mirror shows that 82% of the population would back a 1p rise in National Insurance to fund the NHS. In answer to the question, “Would you be willing to change your vote in favour of a party who pledged additional NHS funding?” 18% of the respondents said ‘definitely’ and 33% said ‘probably’.

We set out our plan to put 1p on income tax in our 2017 manifesto. Our plan includes an eventual restructuring of National Insurance contributions with ring-fenced money for Health and Social Care. It is party policy that the NHS needs funding and taxes will have to be raised to do it. In the ComRes Mirror poll, almost an equal number of Tory (81%) and Labour (86%) voters agree.

This ComRes poll follows on the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Health Foundation joint report released two weeks ago showing that

Just to keep the NHS providing the level of service it does today will require us to increase spending by an average 3.3% a year for the next 15 years – with slightly bigger increases in the short run to address immediate funding problems.

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Layla Moran: Country in need of long term care plan

Today a Commons report highlights how much the adult social care sector is underfunded.

Layla Moran said that this had to change:

Care workers work tirelessly but instead of getting the support they need they face low pay, falling morale and a high turnover of staff.

The country is in desperate need for a long-term plan to fund the increasing demand for care. That is why the Liberal Democrats propose putting a penny on income tax to raise the transformational investment needed to support care workers and protect the future of care services.

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Growth in infant mortality highlights desperate pressures on the NHS

The annual statistics on stillbirths, infant deaths and childhood deaths in England and Wales were published yesterday by the government. The report also includes data on the causes of death and information on key risk factors.

This report evidences the first two-year increase in infant mortality rates in England and Wales for the last 30 years. Former Health Minister and Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb said:

Infant mortality has been in steep decline for over 30 years. However, this success cannot lead to complacency.

Figures released today show there is a trend towards increased infant mortality rates over the last two years. Losing a child is one of the most heart-breaking experiences imaginable. The government must urgently examine the cause and what might be driving this disturbing reversal of historic falls in infant mortality. The fact that the NHS is under such strain may well be contributing to this.

That is why the Liberal Democrats want to put a penny in the pound on income tax, to maintain and improve standards in the NHS.

At Spring Conference, a motion was passed celebrating the NHS at 70 and recognising the wonderful contribution of NHS staff.

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Our NHS needs money!

Vince has been talking about how we can properly fund the NHS in England and Wales.

 

The full LIb Dem plan is here. It includes five steps for rescuing health and social care services, with the long-term goal being to integrate health and social care into one seamless service with pooled budgets.

  1. An immediate 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion additional revenue which would be ringfenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services.
  2. Direct this additional investment to the

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Scottish Lib Dems launch consultation on social care.

We will all have some contact with the social care system at some point whether it is for ourselves or for someone we love.

Social care policy is devolved to Scotland and the Liberal Democrats have a proud record. Despite what the SNP tried to tell us in their party political broadcast this week, it was the Liberal Democrats, in coalition with Labour, who introduced it back in the glorious days of the early 2000s.

Things aren’t going so well, though, as an ageing population puts huge pressure on the system.

At any one time, around 1,000 patients are stuck in hospital because …

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Funding Social Care costs

Andrew Dilnot, the economist who reviewed social care for the coalition government has described the social care system as a classic example of market failure  where the private sector cannot do what’s needed.

On the Tory plans, he said:

The changes just fail to tackle the central problem that scares most people. You are not tackling the big issue that people can’t pool their risks. There is nothing that anybody can do to pool their risk with the rest of the population, you just have to hope that you are not unlucky.

It is not providing insurance. You could easily have care costs of £300,000 each if you are a couple; you are not able to cover that extreme risk which is what we all want to do faced with anything else which we can insure. That’s the market failure and these changes do nothing to address that.

Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb has said:

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Dementia Tax – Project Fear

Dementia has been a big part of my life. Over the years I have worked with people with dementia in some of our most deprived communities in south London – Brixton, Elephant and Castle, Peckham, Old Kent Road and the surrounding (often high-rise) estates.

I have therefore felt very torn by the party’s recent headlong charge for the populist line on the “dementia tax”. As a (naturally pretty tribal) Lib Dem of three decades standing I recognised a fantastic campaigning issue that might help claw back a few coastal “retirement” seats. However, I also knew that the inaccurate use of the term dementia tax (it is neither a tax nor is it about dementia) causes pain to many for whom this is not just a line in a press release but something real and near at hand.  People with dementia have a cognitive impairment but they are not stupid; they can and do take in political messages. Politicians need to think of the deep distress their negative campaigning can cause to many of our 850,000 fellow citizens who are living with this disease.

During the election the party launched a “Theresa May Estate Agent” website that quoted the  example of a “lady from Runcorn” who at the first symptoms of dementia had her home whipped away by the government. This achieves the triple whammy of being misleading about dementia, misleading about the current system and misleading about the (then) prospective system. If only we had moderated our language on this. For a start the dichotomy between “free” coronary care and “paid for” dementia care is false. Thanks to the voluntary sector (usually funded by health services or councils) many people with dementia get significant help and advice for free. If you are diagnosed with dementia early the stereotype of a tragic husk of a dementia victim slumped in a chair is completely untrue. There is no cure for or reversal of dementia but the NHS funds drugs which can have a plateauing effect on the symptoms of Alzheimer’s for many years. Lots of dementia care from MRI scans to memory clinics is completely free of charge.

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Lord Martin Thomas writes…The moment the election turned

On the morning of Monday, 22nd May, we were tipped off that Theresa May was coming to the Memorial Hall in Gresford, an old mining village just outside Wrexham where we live. My wife, Joan (Baroness) Walmsley, and I headed off immediately to be part of this unusual and unheralded event – the last PM in Gresford was Ted Heath in 1970.

The entrance to the hall was manned by anonymous young men in dark suits and unsurprisingly our names were not on the printed list of expected attendees from the local Tory faithful. However, I pointed out that I was President of the Trust which built and owned the building and they obviously thought there would be more trouble if we were excluded. The local Tory candidate reluctantly agreed.

Joan was clued up about the dementia tax, since she had been debating it with Jeremy Hunt at Alzheimer’s Society meeting in London four days’ earlier. We thought we might raise the issue with Mrs May.

For the first fifteen minutes, the PM attacked Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbot in highly personal and insulting terms. The election was apparently between her personally and these reprobates. She was still in “strong and stable” mode. There was no “conservative” on the back cloth.

And then something surprising happened.

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Why is it so difficult for politicians to understand social care?

Social care is any extra help that a person needs with day to day living. It might be getting out and about, maintaining relationships, preparing meals, washing, paying bills or cleaning and maintaining the house. Anything that does not require really specialised knowlege but is, nonetheless, essential for a person’s wellbeing. Infants, small children and those with disabilities often need social care. Most adults can manage well into their old age by hiring someone like a gardener or a cleaner except if they have a medical condition such arthritis, Parkinson’s or dementia. Even then, most people can pay for their care themselves or claim attendance allowance to help them to do so. The problem comes in when their care reaches such a level that this benefit does not cover the cost of their care and they have depleted their savings. Currently, the local authority will help towards the cost of a person’s care – or even organise the care – if the person’s savings have depleted to £23,250. This does not currently include the value of the person’s house if they own it. If the person needs to go into a care home or other form of residential care, they are currently expected to fund their own care by selling their house and will only be eligible for support from the local authority when their savings have depleted to £23,250.

The problem that Theresa May has had is that the conservatives have tried to level the playing field by saying that the value of the person’s home should taken into consideration regardless of whether they have care in the home or in a residential setting. This means that a person with a home worth £500,000 will need to pay for their care for many years before receiving any public assistance. To top it off, the Tories did not agree to the £72,000 cap proposed by the Liberal Democrats in government so Theresa May was left holding the bag as many people realised that their life savings may go on care and that they may only be able to pass on minimal savings to their children and grandchildren. On BBC Question Time last night, Mrs. May committed that people would “not have to sell their homes in their lifetime” but this is rather a big promise and one which I, for one, do not believe she can keep.

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WATCH: Lib Dems attack “Dementia Tax” with mock estate agent “Theresa May and Co”

The Liberal Democrats have launched a mock estate agent named “Theresa May and Co”, in a scathing attack on Theresa May’s plans on social care, widely referred to as the “Dementia tax”.

It is described as “Westminster’s finest estate agents – dealing exclusively in selling vulnerable elderly people’s homes to pay for the care they desperately need.”

It comes after Liberal Democrats including Ed Davey led a protest outside Conservative HQ against the dementia tax with ‘Theresa May and Co’ placards. Watch it here:

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Liberal Democrats set 10 questions for Theresa May on the “Dementia Tax”

Rarely has such an ill-thought out policy made it into a manifesto. The Tory proposals for what’s been dubbed a “dementia tax,” going back on previous proposals to set a cap on care costs for those who need care, don’t even seem to have the agreement of senior Conservatives. In fact, if the Sunday papers are to be believed, they don’t even have the backing of Theresa May’s two chiefs of staff.

Vince Cable outlines the main issues here:

The Liberal Democrats have today put 10 questions to Theresa May on the implementation of this policy. Her speech last Monday was initially presented as a u-turn. She then claimed in her Andrew Neil interview that it was anything but. Voters need to know exactly what this policy means before they go to the polls in 11 days’ time.

The questions are:

1. At what level will the cap on care costs be set?

2. How will it be uprated? Will it be in line with house prices?

3. Does the £100,000 floor apply to households or individuals?

4. Will the cap and £100,000 floor apply to care costs only, or will it also include accommodation costs?

5. Will people still need to pay an arrangement fee and interest for care costs, and if so how will these charges be set? The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM) currently charges 2.25% interest and a £900 set up fee plus £300 a year.

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Brian Paddick writes…A gap has opened up and we need to exploit it

Following on from Theresa May’s promise of a free vote to lift the ban on the cruellest of hunting with hounds, allusions to country sports seems to becoming increasingly apt.  On Monday, it was alleged that she had “shot our fox” by changing the Conservative manifesto to include “consultation on an absolute limit on what people need to pay” for their own social care.  In fact Theresa May has shot herself in the foot.

If we had deliberately set an ambush for the Conservatives, we couldn’t have done a better job.  The Tories had already broken a promise in their 2015 manifesto by not implementing the recommendations of the Dilnot Commission.  Instead, what had been agreed across all political parties, to put a limit of £72,000 on what any anyone would have to contribute to their social care was deferred until 2020.  Even then, £118,000 of assets would be protected.

Instead, in the 2017 Conservative manifesto, the Tories say they would introduce a “dementia tax”, where all your assets, except the last £100,000, could be taken to fund your social care, including your home.  Those lucky enough to be amongst the 1 in 4 who need little or no social care would be able to pass all the benefits of a lifetime of work to their children, while the 1 in 10 whose social care costs exceed £100,000, could be left with little for their loved-ones to inherit.  Instead of society sharing the risk, those unlucky enough to get dementia would have to bear the whole cost of their care without limit.  In the face of mounting criticism, until yesterday, the Tories were “strong and stable” – when asked specifically whether there would be a cap on individual contributions to social care, the answer was a definite “no”.

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Tories in social care meltdown

It appears that the brutal Tory approach to social care is not going down so well with its own candidates.

From PoliticsHome:

One candidate said the author of the proposal “should be shot”, The Times reports.

Another candidate standing for re-election said it is “very hard to justify” the plan. “This plan was coming up on the doorstep this morning and there has not even yet been much coverage it. It is very hard to justify, because people with a house of £300,000 could have a liability now of £200,000. I thought the campaign was just right until yesterday,” they said.

Bob Blackman, the Tory candidate in Harrow East, told the Evening Standard: “I broadly support the policy but clearly there needs to be a limit on how much any individual or family should be required to pay.”

A third candidate said the plan was “not great. Theresa should have stuck with Dilnot and an insurance scheme.”

Norman Lamb said:

The Tory high command is now in meltdown. It realises it has misjudged the British people, who don’t like this cold, mean-spirited Conservative approach to our most vulnerable citizens.

First Theresa May was revealed as the lunch-snatcher. Now she is pushing a Dementia tax. This will go down as her poll tax – not only a colossal political miscalculation, but also cruel, showing that she just doesn’t care.

No wonder the Tories are panicking. The Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to give social care the extra funding it needs, properly funded with a penny on income tax to pay for it, and to give Britain a brighter future.

The Tory plan was also condemned by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, who said:

A life-time cap on care costs, as proposed by the Dilnot Commission, is a solution to the insurance problem. It is effectively a form of social insurance, funded from general taxation. It may also make it easier for a private market to emerge that would offer insurance against care costs up to the cap.

By contrast, the Conservative plan makes no attempt to deal with the fundamental challenge of social care funding. That is the big problem – not how many people might win or lose.

In response to that, Norman said:

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Joan Walmsley writes…Taxing patience and taxing patients

In order to “incentivise employers to think differently about their recruitment and skills decisions and the balance between investing in UK skills and overseas recruitment” (Lord Nash in the Lords on Tuesday) the government has decided to introduce an Immigration Skills Charge, a tax of £1000 per employee, per year, paid in advance by an employer wishing to recruit a skilled worker from outside the European Economic Area.

It does not apply to everyone, of course. Exceptions have been made for a variety of post-graduate scientists (including social and humanities scientists), research and development managers, and higher education teaching professionals.

Two groups that have not been exempted are professionals in health and social care. We know that both of these sectors are heavily dependent upon recruiting professionals from all over the world. We know only too well, from report after report, of the dire financial straits of the NHS: three quarters of NHS trusts are in deficit; nearly every A&E has limped from crisis to crisis this winter; we are short of nurses and retention is awful; hospital doctors’ rosters are unfilled; and GP practices can’t replace retiring doctors. The staff have become the shock-absorber for the NHS.

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Farron: National scandal of thousands of deaths linked to social care cuts

Tim Farron has described new research linking tens of thousands of deaths to a lack of proper social care as a “national scandal” and has called for action, including a potential tax rise.

The new research paper by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University of Oxford concluded that “the evidence points to a major failure of the health system, possibly exacerbated by failings in social care”

Tim said:

It is a national scandal that in one of the richest countries in the world, vulnerable older people are missing out on the services they need and may even have

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WATCH: Tim Farron talking about need to properly fund social care

Tim Farron was on Sky News earlier talking about the crisis in social care. Watch his interview here.

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How Brexit will harm our NHS and social care

So, I’m drifting back to LDV slowly and gradually. My husband is now recovering from his heart surgery at home. It’s still quite incredible to think that only 10 weeks ago, he was enjoying his best health in years. All that changed with what we thought was Flu but turned out to be an infection in his heart which damaged one of his heart valves – a pretty complex one, too. My gratitude to the surgical team who sorted this out is unrivalled.

I have been more scared during this time than I have ever been in my life. That late-night phone call from Intensive Care when they said they needed to take him back into theatre was the point that I thought I really was going to crumble. The election of Donald Trump, terrifying as it is, 24 hours later was far from the most stressful thing I had to face that week.

The frenetic running about to and from the hospital and the intrinsic terror of the situation have now been replaced with a much less stressful but still very busy routine of drugging people, feeding people, cleaning, washing and other elements of domesticity which are a bit of a learning curve for me. My slovenly ways have been replaced by scrubbing everything in sight with anti-bacterial potions.

I tell Bob that I am basing my nursing style on Kathy Bates in Misery. He wasn’t really meant to agree that I was doing that well, but never mind.  Yesterday was a bit of a milestone when he had his first wee walk outside in 9 weeks.

I’m clearly going to be pre-occupied with looking after him for a while yet. The likelihood is that I’m still going to be a bit slow to get back to people  and not really engaged full time in the site until the New Year, so please continue to be patient with me.

My thanks go to the team who have had to do well more than they ever signed up for over the last nine weeks. Without them, there would have been no LDV at all. They have been absolutely brilliant.

I’ve observed much about our NHS and the stresses at its frontline. Bob had the most excellent care in hospital, but it was very clear to us how hard everyone was working and how there was so little give in the system. It’s a theme I will return to. For today, though, I want to think about the effects of Brexit on the NHS. The Leave Campaign’s jolly assertion that leaving the EU would mean £350 million a week extra for the NHS was consigned to history almost before the votes had been counted.

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Baroness Liz Barker writes…Osborne’s social care omnishambles

This week I am asking the Tory government how much revenue they anticipate local authorities will raise from May 2016 when they are given the power to add to council tax a precept of up to 2% to fund social care.

During the last government  Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb achieved something which had eluded all governments of the last thirty years, an equitable and sustainable settlement for social care. The Care Act restated the purpose of social care:  enabling the wellbeing  of both the person needing care and their carer, prevention and delay of the need for care and support and putting people  in control of their care.  The inclusion of the main proposals of the Dilnot Commission, paved the way for a funding system in which the costs of care would be shared, essentially between property owners and the state, thereby enabling individuals to avoid having to meet catastrophic costs at times of greatest vulnerability. 

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MPs must work together to safeguard our healthcare

As a doctor, every day I see the enduring effects of short-term political spin on my patients.

Hospitals bursting at the seams, short-staffed and lacking beds, are told desperately needed nurses will only be available if there is ‘surplus winter funding’. Patients ready to leave hospital wait weeks for ‘exceptional funds’ to secure specialist accommodation, while we face a 12% rise in delayed hospital stays. 

The Commonwealth Fund rightfully praised the NHS’s quality. Yet BMA Chair Dr Mark Porter warned we mustn’t be complacent over the perils of short-term partisan meddling. ‘A combination of rising patient demand, staff shortages and falling funding is undermining the very foundations of the NHS, as is the constant short-term interference from politicians of all colours.’

Reinforcing his counsel, unprecedented strikes showed the peril of capriciously uncosted manifesto pledges. This week NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens called for a national consensus on social care by 2018, as we learned we lag behind similar countries in spending.

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Norman Lamb calls for a commission into the health and social care crisis

Norman Lamb Liverpool Spring conference Spring 2015 Photo by Liberal Democrats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Norman Lamb has launched proposals for an unprecedented cross party commission into health and social care.

Norman has received the backing from Conservative and Labour former Health Secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn and believes that only a full non-partisan commission will properly deal with the crisis in health and social care.

They have been joined in this call by NHS survival – a group of 8,000 doctors, patients and and members of the public committed to ensuring the survival of the health service.

The former care minister believes the commission would be a ‘Beveridge Report’ for the 21st Century, and be the first of its kind since the creation of the NHS and welfare state. Its aim is to engage with the public, staff in the NHS and care services and civic society on the massive challenge the NHS and care services face.

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Passing the buck for the cuts

George Osborne, and the Tory Party for that matter, are lucky so and so’s – even jammy, as they used to say where I come from. The goings on in Parliament yesterday illustrate perfectly why the government can make itself virtuous by not doing what it said it would only a few weeks ago. Not only are Tax Credits safe for the time being (although how long we the tax payers should continue to subsidise employers is debatable); but also Police Budgets are to be protected, thanks to the £27bn the Chancellor has suddenly found from somewhere.

We can speculate about the wheels eventually coming off the Tory wagon; but don’t hold your breath. Even with a slim majority it is unlikely that there will be enough by elections between now and 2020 for the balance of power to shift decisively, and, in any case, at 42% in one recent opinion poll, it’s unlikely the Tories will lose the plot.

What worries me more is how local government is going to cope with the cuts still to come its way over the next five years unless another non U turn might be in the pipeline. My authority, which has responsibility for Adult Social Care, can now, in theory, raise its portion of the Council Tax by 3.99% without the need for a referendum. That increase works out at about 83p per week for a Band D property in Lincolnshire and would raise around £9 million of which around £4 million would be ring fenced for Adult Social Care. However, as government grants will continue to be reduced that means that, as far as my county is concerned, things will, at best, more or less stand still.

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Lamb and Williams warn on care cap delay

As Care Minister, Norman Lamb (and his Liberal Democrat predecessor) were pivotal in ensuring that the cap for care costs was introduced. The Conservatives have now delayed its implementation by 4 long years. Norman described this as an “outrageous betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail. He said:

This an extraordinary and devastating u-turn from the Tories and an outrageous betrayal of people at their most weak and most frail with conditions like dementia.

Crippling care costs need addressing urgently. In coalition we designed a solution that would help and was affordable. Local authorities have spent millions already preparing for the introduction of the cap, yet we now hear the Tories are turning their back on it. This delay is a total waste of public money.

The distress and heartbreak that people feel when a loved one is in care, is being exacerbated by the fear of how to pay for it. We must not allow this to continue.

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LibLink: Paul Burstow on leaving the elderly at death’s door

Paul BurstowIn the Telegraph today, Paul Burstow expresses his concerns for social care under the Conservative Government. He writes:

Ninety per cent of NHS leaders now believe that social care cuts are directly affecting patient care, while social care leaders report that over half of the providers they work with are facing financial difficulties. This is not sustainable.

Social care has always been the poor relation of the NHS, but in the last Government, Norman Lamb and I made the reform of social care a priority, and, we made more progress in five years than the previous government did in thirteen. We secured an extra £7.2 billion, reformed social care law putting well-being and prevention centre stage, limited individual exposure to care costs and made sure no one should ever again have to sell their home to pay for care. And we laid the groundwork for bringing the NHS and social care together with one budget.

But he sees all that being placed at risk.

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Paul Burstow writes…Care Act shows how Lib Dems in Government make society fairer

Knowing that you will receive the best care possible means the world to everyone who finds themselves or their loved ones in need of social care.

That is why I made it my first priority as Care Minister, and together with Norman Lamb – our current Care Minister – and other Lib Dem colleagues we have worked hard to reform our badly out of date care system and drag it into the twenty first century.

Today, that work reaches a major milestone with the Care Act coming into effect. As the independent health charity the Kings Fund put it, on social care “the coalition has made more progress in five years than the previous government did in thirteen”.

The Care Act creates new rights and protections for people who need care and new rights for the friends and family who selflessly care for them. It puts in place for the first time a national rules to determine when a person is eligible for care ending the unfair postcode lottery that existed in the past. This means that  people with the same level of care needs will now be treated in the same way wherever they live. It also puts people’s wellbeing at the heart of all care decisions, and creates new responsibilities for local authorities to make sure that support is available to stop people developing care needs in the first place.

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Annette Brooke MP writes…Choice at the end of life is vital – free social care can make that happen

Annette BrookeThere are no dress rehearsals when it comes to where we are and who we are with when we die – so it’s crucial that people have as much choice and control over the situation as possible.  This is important not only to the person who is at the end of their life, but also those close to them. A person’s last days will stay with family and friends forever, so it is important that they should be left with a lasting, positive memory of their loved one receiving good quality care in a place of their choice.

What is not acceptable is for someone to end their days against their wishes in an expensive hospital bed, purely because they did not have the right support to die at home. Sadly, we know far too many people currently do not die in a place of their choosing. Macmillan Cancer Support found that 36,000 people with cancer who wanted to die at home died in hospital in England in 2012. In fact, 73 per cent of people living with cancer would prefer to die at home, but figures show only 30 per cent are currently able to do so. We cannot continue to have final experiences and enduring memories shaped by the absence of choice for people at the end of life.

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Clegg says Lib Dems would spend extra £8bn on NHS

nhs sign lrgNick Clegg has set out how the Liberal Democrats would invest in the NHS in government for the next five years.

From the Guardian:

Fleshing out the figure released by the deputy prime minister at a press conference, the Lib Dems said they would increase the NHS’s funding by £8bn a year by 2020-21 in three stages. They would make permanent the coalition government’s extra £2bn a year – which was announced in the autumn statement – by 2015-16.

In addition, Clegg said the party would find another £1bn a year in real terms in 2016-17 by capping pension tax relief for the wealthiest (which the Lib Dems said would save £500m), aligning dividend tax with income tax for those earning more than £150,000 (saving £400m) and scrapping the shares for rights scheme, which allows employees to forfeit certain employment rights in return for company shares (saving £100m).

Once it had reduced the deficit in 2017-18, Clegg said that the party would increase health spending in line with growth in the economy. He said: “It’s a combination of change plus more money and the reason we can do that, and no other party will be able to do that, is firstly, as we explained at our party conference, is we are going to introduce some tax changes which only affect the very wealthiest, to put in an extra billion pounds into the NHS, and next year and the year after that.”

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Paul Burstow MP writes…We need urgent action on home care

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossThe extra £2 billion for health care services announced in the Autumn Statement last week is fantastic news. It is testament to Norman Lamb’s effective and high profile campaigning for urgent funding for the NHS, as well as the hard work behind the scenes by many colleagues making the case.

But in reality these additional funds will not be enough to put the NHS on a sustainable footing. As many of us know only too well, social care is in crisis, and with an ageing population, the existing strain can only become greater. If we don’t address this issue urgently, we risk creating a wholly avoidable additional burden on the NHS which would put its stability entirely out of reach.

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Opinion: We can’t afford not to pay for social care

I had a visitor the other day – a resident who was her husband’s carer. Neither was elderly and she was coping remarkably well. I am honestly not sure I could perform her role. I suspect many of us couldn’t.

She had no complaint to make but instead wanted me to understand – for the purposes of local and national policy – what caring looked like in terms of costs. The simple point is that the care she provides comes cheap. She does most of the work so the local authority delivers only respite care at some thousands a year. But were she older, frailer or even simply smaller in stature this would not be possible. And then the cost of care would escalate as it fell to the state to provide it. Ultimately it would reach a six figure sum. Per annum.

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats : the party of social work and social care?

Stay Well At Home Service, Evesham, BritainFirstly, I must admit that I have an interest in this subject; not only as Lead Member for Adult Social Care, and as Chair of our local Health & Wellbeing Board, but as a registered, practising social worker. This week NHS England set out an ambitious vision for the NHS over the coming five years. A vision which breaks down the barriers between GP’s and hospital care, which moves more healthcare back into the communities which desperately need it and places public health front and centre in a bid to create a Health Service fit for the 21st century.

Local government is mentioned numerous times in this visionary document. Our recently returned responsibility for Public Health will become even more significant over the next 5 years. The roles and responsibilities of Health and Wellbeing Boards are discussed as possible conduits for local commissioning and decision making. All welcome and in line with our Liberal Democratic view of the world. In this field of policy we as a party have made huge strides in the Department of Health through Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb; integrating budgets, mental health waiting times, carers’ rights and, fundamentally, the Care Act.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments
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