Adult Social Care: Views from the Commons - Eleanor Smith MP
In the fourth part of our series on adult social care, we spoke to Eleanor Smith MP. Eleanor is the MP for Wolverhampton South West and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on adult social care. Following her question during PMQs last week, she powerfully explains the issues the care sector faces and calls for the introduction of free personal care.
“At Prime Minister’s Questions on 8 May, I asked, as co-chair of the APPG on Adult Social Care, when the long-awaited green paper on social care was going to be published.
“The question seemed to take Theresa May aback. She had no answer, even though producing a green paper had been a Conservative manifesto commitment in the 2017 General Election.
“We have been waiting years for this. In January of this year, the Health and Social Care Secretary said, “it will happen before April”.
“Nothing seems to be on the horizon, but this green paper is important, and was put in the Tory manifesto because our social care system needs urgent reform.
“Social care is about assisting people live their everyday lives. It’s about helping the elderly, those with conditions like dementia, or physical or learning disabilities, get up in the morning, prepare meals and wash.
“People in these categories, and their families, are worried about accessing the level of care they need. And if they don’t need it now, they’re worried about how to fund it in the future.
“Delays in addressing this have real consequences. Age UK calculated that in the first 700 days after the green paper was first promised, 54,025 older people died waiting for care to begin and 626,701 older people were left unable to access the care system.
“More than 7,000 older people lost their homes because of social care costs, and the NHS wasted £476 million because it couldn’t discharge patients because of a lack of social care.
“These issues don’t stand still. Close to 300 carer jobs are becoming vacant every day, and everyday almost 3,000 older people are becoming carers themselves.
“I support free personal care, and am passionate about an integrated health and social care system. People need to be treated with care and dignity.
“Free personal care could ensure that some of the most vulnerable people don’t have to worry about the financial costs of their care in the future. They’d get the care they need, it would reduce the number of people stuck in hospital waiting for care to be organised, and it would allow struggling families the chance to spend more quality time with their loved ones.
“This policy must be considered as part of the government’s consultation on adult social care – free personal care is already available in Scotland and has been proved to work.
“The green paper needs to be published now, so the debate can start and our social care issues can be addressed.”