The government has denied claims that social care could be brought under the control of the NHS in England.
The Guardian reported yesterday that under plans being examined by David Cameron’s former policy chief Camilla Cavendish, the government would take responsibility for social care services away from councils in England, together with £22.5bn in annual funding, and hand it over to the NHS.
But while the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that Baroness Cavendish has been contracted to support the reform of the social care system, it said there is “no foundation” to the claims that the two public services could be merged.
“The Government has no plans to merge the social care sector with the NHS, or to put the social care sector under the control of the NHS,” a spokesperson said.
The Guardian reported that the proposed merger would be designed to make it easier for frail older people, as well as vulnerable children and the disabled, to access the care they need and ease the strain on an overburdened NHS.
However, legislation would be needed to implement such a change.
Boris Johnson said in his first speech as Prime Minister that the government had a “clear plan” to fix the problems in social care.
One year on and councils, health and social care leaders and charities, are calling for those plans to finally be published.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said earlier this month that he hoped a decisive plan to fully resource and reform the system would be in place within a year.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Sir Simon said that “if any good” could come out of the COVID-19 crisis, “this must be the moment” to properly resource and reform the way in which social care works in this country “once and for all”.
He said there was a need to “decisively answer” how high quality care could be funded and provided long-term.
Among the many calls for reform, the idea of setting up a national care service is gaining traction, with suggestions for funds to be put aside for free personal care and a care service to work alongside the NHS.
But critics say nationalising it is not the answer. They say a national one-size-fits-all care system would not be capable of embedding community-led approaches and that health and care budgets ought to be merged locally to aid preventative care.
Meanwhile, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has said that social care reform must be centred on a “home first” principle and a shift away from long-stay care homes,
In a new report that sets out nine recommendations for social care reform, ADASS said that for “too long” care has been built around organisations and buildings such as hospitals, day care centres and care homes.
The future, the organisation said, must be about what works for individuals and their families, with local organisations working together to organise care and support that enables people to work, stay independent at home and be engaged with their communities.