Guest column: Government must act now on care homes concerns

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

Quite a number of constituents have been contacting me about care homes in England and the related 
 campaign by Independent Age.

I share many of the concerns that people raise about the state of adult social care in England.

In July, 3,200 care services were rated as ‘requires improvement’ and more than 340 were rated as ‘inadequate’.

That means that some 92,000 vulnerable people are receiving poor care and some 10,000 people are receiving inadequate care.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services finds that £4.6 billion has been cut from adult social care budgets since 2010.

The Health Foundation has also said that six years of real-terms reductions in social care budgets have left 400,000 fewer people receiving essential help. 

In October, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its annual state of care report which found that the number of nursing home beds fell by 4,000 in two years.

The number of people not getting support for their social care needs has also risen by 18 per cent and the future quality of care has been described as ‘precarious’.

I believe the detail of this CQC report is evidence of the Government’s inability to maintain health services at the standard which patients expect.

Reductions in social care budgets since 2010 has caused problems of recruitment and retention of staff, which is at the heart of the poor care that is being reported.

People are now going without the care they need and nearly half a million fewer people are getting publicly-funded care since 2010.

More than one million older people have unmet care needs.

At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that promised an extra £8 billion to tackle the immediate financial gap in social care, including an additional £1 billion for the first year.

This would ensure care staff are paid the National Living Wage and extend publicly-funded social care to 36,000 people with the highest needs.

I am aware that Independent Age is working with Healthwatch England to improve the information available to help local people assess the quality of care homes.

I believe the Government must step in and give our health and care system the resources it needs to provide the best possible care.

The Chancellor should use the Budget in November to finally put the NHS on a secure financial footing.