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LGA: Lords’ report highlights ‘vital’ need to secure future of social care

Council leaders have welcomed a new report by the House of Lords Select Committee released today that slammed successive governments for failing to have a long-term view of the future of social care and the NHS.

The ‘Long-term Sustainability of the NHS and Adult Social Care’ report called on the government to set up an independent Office for Health and Care Sustainability to be established to look into health and social care for the next 15 to 20 years.

Lord Patel, chairman of the committee, said: “There is a shocking lack of long-term strategic planning in the NHS. This short-sightedness stems from the political importance of the NHS and the temptation for politicians to reach for short-term fixes not long-term solutions.

“To solve this, we need a new body that is independent of government and is able to identify clearly the healthcare needs of a changing and ageing population and the staffing and funding the NHS will require to meet those needs.

“This new Office for Health and Care Sustainability should be a trusted, independent voice as the Office for Budget Responsibility has become on economic forecasting and on public finance matters. It will need to look ahead and plan for 15-20 years into the future.”

The LGA has stated that the committee was right to call for greater investment in adult social care and the NHS to ensure that healthcare in the UK is sustainable going into the future.

Cllr Linda Thomas, vice chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, stated: “Adult social care is critical to the health and wellbeing of people with a complex range of often intense needs, their carers and families, and our communities more generally.

“An adequately funded social care and support system is essential for supporting the sustainability of the NHS by reducing the demand it faces.

“Equally, what the NHS does or does not do can have an important impact for social care; reductions in services such as incontinence treatment, stroke rehabilitation and NHS continuing care increase pressure on adult social care.”

The LGA vice chair also warned that without better investment in primary, community and social care services councils would be forced to wrongly focus on local pressures rather than tackling them at their source.

Though Cllr Thomas said that the announcement of £2bn for adult social care in the Budget marked a “significant step” towards protecting the services caring for older and disabled people in our communities over the next few years, she also warned that this could only be seen as a  

“It gets us no closer to a long-term solution to tackling the funding crisis to help provide care and support for people to enable them to live more independent, fulfilled lives,” she added.

Cllr Thomas also repeated that the Green Paper on social care that the government had agreed to publish this year was a good opportunity to explore a long-term option for adult social care in England.

“For the Green Paper to be successful, local government leaders must play a central role so that any solutions are workable, affordable, and support the spirit and letter of the Care Act, which councils are fully committed to,” said Cllr Thomas.

“Councils, working with their local partners, must have full flexibility over how they use this funding to ensure it is directed to where it is most needed and so that it helps people live independently in their communities and surrounded by their families and friends.”

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