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More care – but only for bed blockers

October 8, 2018

By guest blogger JEF SMITH

I wouldn’t usually choose to give publicity to what happened at the Conservative Party Conference, but I’m prepared to make an exception for Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who announced last Wednesday that a new tranche of cash would be available for social care. There were not many laughs in this edition of Hancock’s Half Hour, but here is some of what he said:

– “Social care is under pressure too. I know the pressures. And we’re going to address them. Because I want us to make the NHS the best health service in the world.”

– “I can announce that today I am making an extra £240 million available to pay for social care packages this winter to support our NHS.”

– “We’ll use this money to get people who don’t need to be in hospital back home, back into their communities so we can free up those vital hospital beds.”

Social care, according to Mr Hancock, needs to be better funded, not because hundreds of thousands of disabled people are living alone and unsupported or with carers who can barely cope, in conditions where their quality of life is somewhere between dismal and desperate; no, the objective of this – pretty modest – cash injection is to “free up those vital hospital beds”.

DHSC will “pay for social care packages this winter” not because people will otherwise linger in pain, isolation and misery, but “to support our NHS”. It is not that we want a decent, or even a just passable, system for caring for seriously dependant older people; the central objective of making more money available is “to make the NHS the best health service in the world”.

After about a dozen more references to the health service, not quite as an afterthought but within a few paragraphs of the end of his speech, Mr Hancock said, “Reform of social care is long overdue and we’ll publish a paper later this year”. Thank you for – almost literally – nothing!

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

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