Since Penningtons Manches last reported on failing systems of care for the elderly, senior members of the medical profession, together with politicians in local government, have spoken out about the social care crisis, which they feel was completely overlooked in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
A cross-party group of politicians has expressed dismay at the impending crisis in a letter to The Observer, writing that ‘the fact the Government appears to have chosen not to act will lower the quality of life for our elderly and vulnerable residents’.
The group urged for £2.6 billion to be provided to bridge the funding gap, saying: “The social care crisis is real and it is happening right now. The Government cannot ignore it any longer if we are to truly have a society that works for everyone.”
Increasing cuts to council budgets, growing numbers of elderly people, and rising costs of care staff wages are all cited as factors contributing to the mounting problem.
The Guardian reports on the squeeze on the provision of care from councils across the UK. Figures acquired by The Observer show that in the last six months, residential and nursing care providers have been forced to close in 77 of the 152 local authorities in England due to cuts to council budgets. Over the same period of time, at-home care provisions have been compromised. Companies offering at-home care in 48 councils around the country have ceased trading, creating a sudden gap to be bridged.
Cuts to council led care provisions also inevitably have a knock-on effect on the NHS. A growing number of elderly patients in hospital are fit to leave but unable to do so due to a lack of adequate care provisions in place within their local community. President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Clare Marx, commented on this during an interview with The Observer, saying: “It is incredibly sad to see this happen, and we feel that we are failing our older people towards the end of their lives – when they deserve more dignity and greater support to stay in their own homes.” She added: “Regrettably this has a knock-on effect for planned operations. I am hearing more and more regularly from colleagues who have had to cancel planned procedures because there aren’t enough beds free on wards to admit patients for their surgery. As a result the NHS is becoming increasingly inefficient. It is a vicious circle that won’t end until we properly resource social and community care.”
Rosie Nelson, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: “The safety of millions of elderly people is increasingly at risk due to a lack of priority given to social care. It is of huge concern that the needs of the elderly were not given their due attention in the Treasury’s plans for the coming year.”
For more information, please see our elderly care claims page.