Care for the elderly is ‘on its knees’ and overdue reforms may not bring the changes needed, MPs warn

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Public Accounts Committee says changes to the system have been scaled back 

Overdue reforms to elderly care may not bring the changes the sector ‘desperately’ needs, MPs warn today.

The Public Accounts Committee says changes to the system have been scaled back and a new charging scheme delayed while funding for both has been diverted.

At the same time, waiting lists are rising, town hall budgets are under pressure, and the sector is still struggling with 150,000 job vacancies.

The MPs accuse the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) of not providing the leadership required to tackle the problems, warning it failed to set out a path to achieving the ambitions established more than two years ago.

Committee chairman Dame Meg Hillier said: ‘Years of fragmented funding and the absence of a clear roadmap has brought the adult social care sector to its knees. 

Overdue reforms to elderly care may not bring the changes the sector ‘desperately’ needs, MPs warn today (stock image)

Committee chairman Dame Meg Hillier (pictured) said: 'Years of fragmented funding and the absence of a clear roadmap has brought the adult social care sector to its knees'

Committee chairman Dame Meg Hillier (pictured) said: ‘Years of fragmented funding and the absence of a clear roadmap has brought the adult social care sector to its knees’ 

‘Waiting lists are rising, the sector is short tens of thousands of essential staff, and local authority finances are being placed under an unsustainable amount of pressure.

‘Whilst we welcome the increase in funding, we fear this will do little to address the key challenges faced by the sector in the absence of a well-funded multi-year strategy. 

‘A 10-year vision is all well and good, but this alone is not enough to bring about the fundamental changes this sector so desperately needs.’

The committee says it is ‘deeply sceptical’ about the Government’s goal of integrating health – run by the NHS – with the social care system run by local authorities.

It is also ‘unconvinced’ if the DHSC knows if it is getting value for money from an extra £1.6bn spent on getting patients out of hospital beds more quickly and a £1.1bn grant to councils.

The MPs raise concerns that the money for town halls, intended to increase carers’ pay and reduce waiting times for elderly people, may be ‘simply going into provider profits’.

A last-minute £500m bailout for councils is welcome but ‘may be too little, too late to have a demonstrable impact’.

The report also says the DHSC’s 2021 white paper is ‘woefully insufficient’ in tackling the workforce crisis, while a recent crackdown on visas for care workers raises ‘significant questions’ about its reliance on overseas staff.

It concludes: ‘With charging reform postponed, system reform scaled back and limited progress from the Department even on its reduced ambition for system reform, we cannot help but be sceptical as to whether the vision is still achievable.’

The Public Accounts Committee says changes to the system have been scaled back and a new charging scheme delayed while funding for both has been diverted (stock image)

The Public Accounts Committee says changes to the system have been scaled back and a new charging scheme delayed while funding for both has been diverted (stock image)

The DHSC insisted last night: ‘We are committed to reforming adult social care and have invested up to an additional £8.6 billion over two years to meet the pressures facing the sector, grow the workforce and improve hospital discharge.

‘The report rightly acknowledges progress to boost care workers’ career progression and training to improve retention, including through a new accredited qualification.

‘To drive forward our vision for reform, we are also investing up to £700 million on a major transformation of the adult social care system, which includes investing in technology and adapting people’s homes to allow them to live independently.’

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