Insights

Mark Raeburn: 4 minute read

Is the state of social care in the UK a scandal?

It’s a subject that we have written around for years with the state of care slowly descending to the point of failure. It is failing across the board, being propped up by unpaid carers and underpaid and overworked care workers. It is a situation that will not be remedied overnight and is constantly overshadowed by the big B, Brexit.

We need to acknowledge the situation as a nation and stop failing our loved ones. Would we be happy to end our days as some have?

Studies at the end of last year pointed to the fact that current government austerity, whilst important for the national debt, have led to more than 120,000 extra deaths. According to the British Medical Journal the over 60s and care home residents have borne the brunt of the cuts, with cuts to medical staff being quoted. Each extra death must be deemed as unacceptable if there were ways to prevent them and so we have to ask the question as a society, as to whether the state of social care is a scandal?

Where is the Green Paper?

That is the question on the lips of thousands. We can use our knowledge and experience to conclude that because the NHS directly affects more of us, the government has decided to delay publication until after the Brexit deadline. They are doing this as the future is murkier than what it is for some Premier League managers. You can make an educated statement and say that no-one is really ready for Brexit as no-one knows what it truly means.

The politics are easy to understand. You go out before Brexit and commit millions but then realise that with a no deal the country has no money to spare and so need to subsequently cut back. In the short term this move will win you votes but in the long term you will be harming yourself and your party. Cutting back on funding for the most vulnerable would leave the Conservative Party looking about as popular as Jose Mourinho towards the end of his last tenure at Manchester United.

Politically you understand the reasoning but morally you have to think of those lives lost needlessly. This brings up the question of how much would you pay to save a life? Life is precious and for us it is priceless. It should not be held up and used as a political bargaining chip. Yes the country needs to develop and move forward but…

“the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”

This famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi articulates the journey that we are on as a nation. Brexit will either unite us as a nation or divide us more than the vote. It is an opportunity to show the world who we are and how we treat the most vulnerable is a measuring stick of this.

Will we ever know the true extent of how we are failing?

No. Facts and figures are a blanket figure and will not account for all those that are being failed. Some of those in need of assistance won’t come forward in the first place and some will say that they are okay, when they are not. The point here is that we know there is a problem that has many strands to it and the more we pull on it, the more we unravel. Thousands each day are suffering beyond the hospital. There are some who sit in bed in their own filth, some who have less meals than they need and some who have no-one. This is not taking into account the disparity in care levels across the network.

Failures are brought to life every day and these predominantly revolve around money and the lack of it. Margins of profit for smaller homes can be in the low thousands and many close each year. Staff are overworked as vacancies continue to be tough to fill with turnover being high. There are thousands of workers across the network that work longer hours than they should as they believe in what they are doing. They realise that by leaving early they could be leaving a resident without medication or food. The extent of this would be difficult to measure and adds an additional string to the social care bow. There are so many threads that are failing, it is difficult to know where to start in terms of creating a sustainable system.

…but is it a scandal?

The dictionary defines a scandal as;
An action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage.

On this basis, the state of care in the United Kingdom is a scandal. In most cases it is not legally wrong but it is by this organisation’s belief, morally wrong.
Those that have been affected by social care whether that is directly or indirectly are outraged. They have seen loved ones get churned up by a system that cannot effectively afford them. They want change and see the plans for the NHS emerging but nothing changing for social care. They see the Green Paper mentioned and then delayed more times than the HS2 project.

There is not widespread outrage on the issue as social care has always been seen as the NHS’ younger and less popular brother. For us, the two are inseparable and you need to look at them both together in order to create real change.

In conclusion
We believe that health and social care should always be seen together. Delays such as those caused by Delayed Transfers of Care occur when there is no effective care laid on by the local authority and so the hospital retains the patient. This problem needs to be tackled on both sides of the fence and not isolation or any cash injection to the NHS will be swallowed up by social care.

It is time that we stopped seeing the NHS and social care as separate entities. This scandal cannot be allowed to continue lest we lose lives every day that could have been saved. Brexit will be a test but the final exam is and always has been how we treat the most vulnerable members of society through the good and the bad times.