01:33PM, Thursday 25 February 2021
The cabinet member for health says more must be done by the Government to fund adult social care in the future.
Cllr Stuart Carroll’s (Con, Boyn Hill) comments came following the publication of a white paper on NHS reforms which would see health and care services work more closely together.
Health Minister Matt Hancock told MPs the new system would see the NHS and councils take decisions about local health together and there would also be more focus on hospitals and social care services working together to improve patient care.
Although Cllr Carroll welcomed these reforms, he said they needed to take 'a step further' and outline future arrangements for adult social care funding.
He said: “The time is now for this county to really make sure this issue is dealt with head on. From a local perspective that is imperative because trying to continually plan for such an important service as we currently get some funding from the Government, other funding from council tax precepts and other arrangements. This is not a sustainable way to proceed.”
He said he would like to see ‘proper integration’ in the future with adult social care being free at the point of need such as the NHS and said the solution would have to involve all parties.
“Admittedly that can’t be done overnight as there is a financial implication to that but the Government needs to start looking at a 10 year plan for adult social care starting at appropriate funding arrangements,” he added.
“There has to be a roadmap here to move that system to something similar to the NHS.
“I’ve been clear I don’t think council tax is the right tax to be using for to raise critical funding for adult social care, because council tax is a regressive tax and it disproportionately affects people on lower incomes and disadvantaged people.”
He said the council would put its representations forward and a blueprint of how they think it should proceed. He has also written to Matt Hancock to request a meeting.
Cllr Lynne Jones (WRA, Old Windsor) leader of the local independents said she agreed ‘in principal’ with the NHS white paper but said it had ‘little detail’ for how it would work.
She said: “ I agree with the ambition to be collaborative rather than a ‘market’ but it will be interesting to see whether central control would allow local actions to be flexible. We all know restructuring can be disruptive, it will need to be handled with care.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The proposals would become the foundations for a health and care system which is more integrated, more innovative and responsive, and more ready to respond to the challenges of tomorrow, from health inequalities to our ageing population.
“Delivering a care system that is fit for the future, in which people are treated with dignity and respect, remains a top priority and we will bring forward proposals for sustainable improvements to the system later this year.”
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