What Now for Adult Social Care Reform?

Published: 22/05/2019

With the postponement of the government's adult social care reforms, our latest Bluebird Care Sevenoaks blog looks at what's next for plans to integrate and improve health and social care in the UK.

Everyone is aware of the strain on NHS and social care services. With an ageing population and many services chronically under-resourced, it has become increasingly difficult for government funded healthcare providers to deliver the standard of care we all deserve.

Government plans for health and social care reform appear to be progressing, with the Prime Minister Theresa May announcing her 5 year NHS funding plan earlier this month. Promising an extra £20.5 billion per year in NHS funds, the increase is intended to help a flailing NHS develop a sustainable 10 year spending plan. The plan aims to improve care and services across a variety of sectors, but of particular interest is to us is the integration of health and social care services.
 

Integrating and Improving Adult Social Care

In March 2018, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt gave a speech outlining his plans for adult social care reform which aim to create a more holistic and co-ordinated system. Promising a Green Paper that was to be published before the summer, Mr Hunt set out the 7 core principles which would underpin these reforms, namely:
  • quality and safety embedded in service provision
  • whole-person, integrated care with the NHS and social care systems operating as one
  • the highest possible control given to those receiving support
  • a valued workforce
  • better practical support for families and carers
  • a sustainable funding model for social care supported by a diverse, vibrant and stable market
  • greater security for all – for those born or developing a care need early in life and for those entering old age who do not know what their future care needs may be
Just how the reforms will be implemented is still up in the air. The secretary of State announced that the Green Paper has been postponed until the autumn in order to integrate social care reform with the new NHS plan.

Reactions to this postponement have been a mixture of disappointment and hope. Some have welcomed the government’s decision to wait until the Green Paper can be properly aligned with the NHS reforms. Others see the delay as a sign that the government are underprepared and less committed to social care reform. Many have expressed concerns about whether services that are already at breaking point will get the interim resources they need until plans and funding are finalised.
 

The Future of Health and Social Care

As for the reforms themselves, there appears to be a similar mixture of hope and scepticism. The Commons Health and Social Care Committee, for example, agree that better integration is essential but have expressed doubts about there being enough time and resources to implement the changes needed.

While we all hope that successful adult social care reform will transform services and standards of care, it remains to be seen what will actually come of the new proposals. The changes necessary to improve and integrate care across a full range of services will be challenging and take a considerable amount of time. Until then, we’ll all have to wait and see.
 
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