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Call to Action: Unpaid Carer’s Struggle Highlights Urgent Need for Social Care Reform Amidst Political Inaction

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Calls for Conservatives and Labour to 'mature' and address the social care dilemma as an unpaid caregiver shares his experiences

With the United Kingdom's population aging, the challenge of providing adequate social care is becoming increasingly significant, adding pressure to an already burdened NHS.

Political journalist @robpowellnews

Friday, June 21, 2024, 9:

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The individual responsible for designing the government's overdue changes in social care expressed to Sky News that politicians must mature and address the sector's ongoing issues.

During a heated debate on public expenditure related to the elections, Sir Andrew Dililnot expressed his opinion that the primary political parties were avoiding the topic of care reform, concerned about potential allegations of planning to increase taxes in the future.

Sir Andrew, who authored a pivotal 2011 report that influenced numerous government policies, identified social care as the country's most significant unmanaged risk.

He stated, "Eighty percent of individuals will require social care at some point before they pass away; it's time we accept that reality."

"He added that politicians likely avoid the subject because they fear it could lead to higher public expenditures and potentially more taxes."

The introduction of a limit on healthcare spending, initially announced by Boris Johnson, has been postponed from 2022 to October of the following year.

The strategy guarantees that no individual in England will pay more than £86,000 in lifetime personal care costs.

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In a discussion with Sky News while on the campaign trail, Rishi Sunak confirmed that the planned reforms regarding charging are still progressing as expected.

The Labour Party, while not directly stating so in its manifesto, has indicated through a party source that it intends to implement the proposed reforms as previously outlined.

The Liberal Democrats have placed a strong emphasis on social care within their policy agenda, yet this issue has received minimal attention in the campaigns of the two major parties.

The Price of Uncompensated Care

Political Correspondent

Norman Phillips takes care of his wife Ros, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and dementia.

At first, he managed to balance his job and his caregiving duties, but as Ros's health declined, he opted for early retirement.

"The pressure of managing work while apologizing and having to return to Stevenage because I couldn't secure care for Ros… that was initially tolerated since I always completed my tasks… but eventually, things deteriorated and… I ended up collapsing in the street," he explained.

After Norman sustained an injury and assistance was scarce, the couple had to sell their house to pay off debts associated with his care.

"Mr. Phillips stated, 'My children realized quite some time ago that there's nothing left for them to inherit… our funds have been depleted. We actually ran out of money some time ago.'"

Following a breakdown earlier this year, Norman was deemed unfit to continue caring for his wife, Ros. Consequently, Ros has been placed under an NHS continuing healthcare plan.

Norman states that continuous care for Ros has become necessary, a situation he believes could have been avoided if lesser assistance had been provided sooner.

He stated, "There are six million unpaid carers like us. If they support us, we can assist the system."

"The system gradually withdrew its support, leaving me to break down under the pressure."

The concept of a cap was initially proposed by the Dilnot Commission and was incorporated into law in 2014.

The introduction of the plan in 2016 was postponed by the government under David Cameron due to concerns about expenses.

The effort to overhaul the industry during the 2017 election is largely believed to have caused Theresa May to lose her majority in the House of Commons.

During his inaugural address as prime minister in 2019, Boris Johnson declared that he possessed a "definitive strategy" aimed at resolving the social care dilemma permanently.

In 2021, changes were introduced along with a rise in National Insurance to support the broader sector.

The tax increase was rolled back during Liz Truss's tenure, and subsequent broader reforms were postponed when Rishi Sunak took over.

This implies that numerous individuals in need of care may still be responsible for expenses that can reach up to several thousand pounds monthly.

Sir Andrew mentioned that the inadequate availability of proper social care is causing a ripple effect on the NHS, as elderly individuals remain unnecessarily hospitalized.

"He explained that many scheduled surgeries depend on the availability of hospital beds. For instance, when one elderly patient occupies a bed for twenty extra days, it could prevent ten hip surgeries from taking place due to a lack of available space."

Stay informed about the most recent updates from the UK and international news by tuning into Sky News.

Leaders in the care industry have pointed out that insufficient wages leading to a lack of staff is a major issue, while local authorities are urging the government to increase financial support.

In a conversation with Sky News, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that his administration invested £8.5 billion in the NHS and social care soon after he assumed office. He emphasized that his government prioritized enhancing the connection between social care and hospitals, as well as increasing investment in the workforce.

Explore further at Sky News: Care staff demand wage increases during recruitment troublesMixed outcomes for Sunak in recent electoral debateEx-Tory minister declares support for Labour in upcoming vote

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A source from the Labour Party mentioned, "our manifesto's section on social care pledges to establish a national care service over the coming ten years, and initiates a fair pay agreement for care workers."

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting acknowledged his desire for a "more ambitious" social policy, yet emphasized that it must be "affordable" to be incorporated into the manifesto.

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