Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 23rd August 2017

Care is back in the news this week with a flurry of stories following the collapse of the sector. While it’s a good thing we’re living longer lives, it does mean there’s an increasing pressure on services which provide support for our elderly and these services are now failing.

It’s a national disgrace in twenty-first century Britain we’re unable to care for our senior citizens, our loved ones, people who have spent a lifetime paying taxes only to be left without support when they need it most.

Following their usual barely thought out approach to policy, the Government is threatening to slash council funding for care unless hospital bed blocking is reduced by 70% before Winter. There are several issues with this idea.

Firstly, to move people out of hospitals you need places for them to go and neither the private nor public sector can continue to afford to provide beds at the price the Government is willing to pay, without new care beds hospital bed blocking can’t be reduced. Secondly, Councils have lost almost half their funding over recent years, you cut funding further and the ability to provide care beds drops further and who is going to pick up that excess demand: the NHS. Congratulations, a policy to reduce pressure on the NHS…has successfully created further pressure on the NHS.

This problem is not irresolvable. Since the Government’s U-turn on business rate retention local government has been left uncertain of how it will be funded in the future, provide stability in council funding and we can plan for the additional care beds we need. Secondly, nationally we must make better use of assistive technology and follow the example of initiatives such as Dementia-friendly Crawley in improving community for support for ageing residents, so people can live independently for longer. Lastly, we need to redirect funding from acute care to earlier interventions to help people not only live longer but healthier lives, reducing future pressure on the care system. All of this should be achievable without requiring huge amounts of new money, it just takes a bit of competence.

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