Social care needs NHS-style funding model, urges RCN activist

Let's look back to start of NHS and do the same for social care, nurse tell congress

Audrey Simpson said political parties must set aside partisan views.
Picture: John Houlihan

A funding model similar to the one that created the NHS is needed for social care in the UK, a nurse said.

Audrey Simpson of Greater Glasgow RCN branch proposed a motion calling on the RCN to lobby political parties for a ‘fair and sustainable funding for social care’ at the annual congress in Belfast.

‘We are an ageing population, so the number of individuals requiring complex social care will continue to increase,’ she said.

‘Unlike healthcare, social care is not universally free at the point of delivery, so care is means-tested and funding varies across the four countries.’

Complex, vulnerable and frail

Ms Simpson added: ‘It is imperative all political parties stop playing games and set aside partisan views – we need them to have the guts to finally resolve this issue for a generation.'

Referring to Aneurin Bevan, minister of health when the NHS was founded in 1948, she added: ‘In July, we celebrate 70 years of the establishment of the NHS. We now need another Bevan moment to secure sustainable funding for social care in the UK.’

Seconder and member of the RCN older people’s forum Joanna James said: ‘There are 460,000 people living in care homes and they are some of the most complex, vulnerable and frail people we look after.’

She said a report by healthcare consultants LaingBuisson in March found a shortfall of between £68 and £171 per week in the funding from local authorities to care home providers in England.

Improve outcomes and maximise resources

Airedale-based nurse Rachel Binks said: ‘Rather than just more money, perhaps we should be looking at spending it in a different way.

Elizabeth Blackburn: Imortant to
support community colleagues. 
Picture: John Houlihan

‘I work in a digital care hub – a telemedicine and digital service in Yorkshire. Using an end of life service and 24-hour phone service, we have reduced the number of people in hospital at end of life to 14% – we are the lowest in the country.’

She called for wider use of virtual training and assessments to refer the right healthcare professional to care and nursing homes, to improve outcomes and maximise resources.

‘Sometimes we just put the case there for more money, when perhaps we should be more innovative,’ Ms Binks said.

Nursing student and RCN Cambridge branch member Elizabeth Blackburn said she was training to be a nurse having worked as a health practitioner in community care.

Needs of carers

‘It is so, so important we support community colleagues. They are working their backsides off to keep patients outside of hospital.

‘They provide the best care they can give and do not have enough money. The pay is poor, the hours are long and it is hard.’

Northumberland and Tyne branch member Loretta Johnson echoed these concerns and called for the physical and mental health needs of carers to be better recognised.

Devon branch member Tom Murray said he hoped the RCN would take the motion forward and ‘the RCN could find itself pushing against an open door’ with positive comments from Commons health and social care committee chair, Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston on a sustainable funding model.

The motion was passed unopposed.


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