Adult social care and public health need money too, say unions and local government association
THE government’s decision to omit adult social care and public health from plans for increased NHS funding was blasted by the unions yesterday.
Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the stop-gap injection for the cash-starved NHS, formally announcing £20 billion extra for the service by 2024.
But shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth pointed out that the increased funds for the NHS do not benefit social care, capital spending and public-health services that help prevent disease.
And he said that the Tories have yet to publish details of their promised 3.4 per cent real-terms increase, whereas Labour’s fully costed plans would mean a rise of 5 per cent, met by raising taxes for the wealthiest 5 per cent and big businesses.
Ms May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have said their increase will be paid for by a “Brexit dividend,” tax rises and borrowing.
Mr Hunt claimed that separate plans being drawn up to increase funding for social care could include measures to encourage people to save more to cover their needs in old age, although soaring in-work poverty under the Tories has made this more difficult.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said that the promised funds would fall short of what is needed to meet adult social care demands.
“More importantly, the NHS needs a funding guarantee, not a pledge borne out of fantasy economics and the dubious prospect of a ‘Brexit bonanza’ to see it out of the woods,” he said.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail called for “joined-up thinking” for health and social care services and the allocation of sufficient cash.
The extra £20 billion for the NHS would be akin to “pouring water down a sink with no plug” were it to be delivered without similar support for preventative health services, said Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Glen Garrod.
The Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board chair Izzi Seccombe said that properly funding social care would reduce the numbers of people admitted to hospital in the first place.
And GMB said that the funding promise ahead of the health service’s 70th anniversary smacks of a “late-night petrol-station guilt gift” after annual rises of just 1.4 per cent for eight years.
National officer Rachel Harrison said that it is uncertain whether the new cash includes the £4.2bn earmarked for the 6.5 per cent NHS pay rise offer “that actually works out as a below-inflation, real-terms pay cut for around half NHS staff.”
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