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The Health and Social Care Levy: reaction from the sector

Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians:

“Today’s announcement starts to address two of the most urgent challenges facing health and care services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 5.4 million people were waiting for an elective procedure in June, and this is likely to rise further as more people come forward for treatment in the months ahead.

“The NHS desperately needs additional funding to enable it to tackle the backlog of care, so this new investment is very welcome. But we should not underestimate the scale of the challenge that the health service faces.

“The Health Foundation has projected that almost £17 billion could be needed to clear the backlog by the end of this parliament, and there remains considerable uncertainty over the level of pressure the NHS will face this winter. A key limiting factor will be workforce, and we need to give serious consideration to how we ensure that we have the staff now and in future to make the most of these new funding settlements.

“Some detail on the promised plan for reforming social care is also welcome. The RCP, like many other organisations, has been calling for a sustainable funding settlement for some time to provide more care and help reduce the demand on health services.

“We are pleased to see that the government’s proposals include funding for the development of the social care workforce, as well as to support their mental and occupational health. But the success of efforts to further integrate health and social care services will be key to the success of any plan.”

Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund:

“Overall we welcome the historic levels of investment in both the NHS and social care announced today and the fact the government has finally grasped the nettle of social care reform. However, a large dose of realism is needed in terms of what this money will be able to deliver and how fast.

“Credit is due for acting where previous governments have failed to deliver on social care reform. But whilst we welcome the proposed reforms there has to be pragmatism about what they can deliver. Social care will only see £5.4bn over three years, with no guarantees of sustainable funding beyond this. The cap on care costs – which will consume nearly half of the funding – will protect people from the very high costs of long stays in residential care, but setting it at £86k means it will help relatively few people.

“The changes to the means test are very welcome and will bring thousands more people into the publicly funded system. There is a real risk this will leave inadequate funding to bring about meaningful change in areas such as workforce, access and quality. Whilst this plan certainly does not ‘fix’ adult social care, as the PM had promised, it is the most significant step forward for a generation.”

Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation and chair of the Health for Care coalition: 

“Health service leaders have always been clear of the absolute priority they attach to the government taking forward its long promised reform of social care. This announcement is an initial step in making good the commitment given in the last election to fund a long term plan for social care.

“The announcement reinforces the vital work in local authorities and health with their colleagues in social care to ensure that our friends, relatives and neighbours receive services which better support their quality of life.

“However, we are concerned that the funding levels do not go far enough and will fail to deliver the sustainable social care system we all want to see. More will be needed to ensure that the support and certainty that social care and the communities and families they serve have needed for so long is delivered.

“It is as yet unclear that there are the comprehensive plans in place which support this announcement: the politically brave and often controversial decision to raise funds through taxation is important but so too is the equitable and considered implementation of plans for improvement of all areas of social care services, including working age adults as well as our older citizens.”

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