Those raising an eyebrow here would be right to do so as many will recall that Mr Johnson on his first day as Prime Minister promised to fix the social care crisis once and for all. Nearly 150 days later and he has not fixed the social care crisis but has moved one step closer to delivering Brexit.
From social care to the NHS, we need to ensure that all that we hold close is protected. Budget cuts cannot continue forever and as much as we could all do with saving money there must be a line in terms of the human cost that emerges from these continual cuts.
The immediate priorities - Brexit
Brexit and the NHS.
A number 10 spokesman commented at the start of this week, “The PM has been very clear that we have a responsibility to deliver a better future for our country and that we must repay the public's trust by getting Brexit done.
That's why the first piece of legislation new MPs will vote on will be the Withdrawal Agreement, Bill."*
With the majority that the Conservative government now command it is expected that Mr Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill will pass through Parliament. Following on from this the Prime Minister will then be required to negotiate a new trade agreement with the EU and have it ratified before the end of 2020. He has previously stated that the transition period will not be extended.
All of this is achievable with the assets that Mr Johnson has at his disposal. It is one of his manifesto promises that he is on track to deliver. Something that the former Prime Minister, Theresa May, was unable to do. In addition to delivering Brexit, Mr Johnson has also committed to reviving the NHS.
The immediate priorities – The NHS
The NHS has become a highly politically charged issue over recent years with funding being primarily at the heart of the issues. The Prime Minister has made an array of promises here. Funding, staffing and new facilities have formed the core parts of these absolutes. These will go a long way to reviving a service that hospital bosses have said is ‘on its knees’. In reality, the NHS will be a priority that will take a lot longer to solve than Brexit at this moment in time.
The Prime Minister has promised to increase the budget of the NHS by £20.5billion per year after taking into consideration inflation by 2023/24. This is just over £5billion less than what was promised by Labour. It sounds like a large figure on the surface but the annual 3.4% raises are smaller than the NHS’s historical average.
For many health think tanks, it is less than what the service requires and will simply put a plaster on an open wound that needs major surgery. Demand for care continues to outstrip the availability of resources and by focusing on building more hospitals over joining up with social care, the funding could be lost in the shuffle.
The commitment to build 40 new hospitals is in danger of falling flat with only six of those promised to be ready by 2025. The other 34 projects will be identified through a shared pool of £100 million in seed money to help 21 NHS Trusts draw up plans. The government have said that the total cost for the 40 hospitals will be £13billion but experts have refuted this figure and placed it closer to £25billion.
In addition to this, the government has committed to increasing staffing numbers and reducing waiting times. These goals are shared with everyone in the country. The NHS is an institution for which we should be proud of and admire, not one that we pity. Currently, the day-to-day reality of the NHS is that waiting times continue to increase, with short term funding being continually added to little benefit.
The Health Secretary has put his faith in technology which we applaud. Technology will assist the NHS is becoming more efficient and will save money but investments first need to be made to reduce waiting times. Brexit in comparison to the NHS is a walk in the park. The NHS and social care need a combined long-term plan that is agreed by all and followed through.
Mr Johnson has a long way to go in terms of turning around the NHS.
What about social care?
A question that we have been asking ourselves for years. Seeming to always lose out to the NHS, social care has once again been placed in the corner to watch its older sibling receive all of the attention. There was no mention at all as to social care and the funding surrounding it at Mr Johnson’s victory speech the day after the election.
The current government has pledged to extend its £1billion a year in additional funding for social care so that it is available every year until the end of this Parliament. This figure is far short of that which was promised by Labour, who promised £3.5billion a year. It is a welcome boost but much like the NHS it is less than what is needed and will need to be shared between adults and children’s social care.
The Conservative Party have listed social care as a priority for their first 100 days in office with cross-party talks being proposed and agreed before the election. None of which has been defined or given a time frame for which to take place and so social care is left waiting. Looking for a long term plan or paper such as the Green Paper for which to model itself upon.
The General Election proved to be a defining moment for the Conservative Party. Their victory was unanimous and sounds the death knell for remainers. With an advantage such as the one that Mr Johnson now commands there seems to be very little, that can stop him from pulling the trigger and initiating Brexit once and for all.
Brexit and the NHS have dominated headlines and will be prioritised whereas social care looks like it will continue on as before. This is a shame as the evident links between health and social care remain distant from each other. The two need to have a joint plan of funding agreed along with a strategy for recruitment and technology upgrades. By looking at the two at the same time and agreeing on a plan of action you ensure that everyone in the country will be able to sleep well as they know that their best interests are looked after.
We hope that by the time our next article is released we will have more of an idea as to what 2020 will look like for social care. We hope that talks of its future are included alongside the direction of Brexit and the funding of the NHS and where it will be allocated.