A recent analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed that many billions of pounds will be required by councils to fund adult social care over the lifespan of the next Parliament. We have previously written about the fact that the elderly population is set to increase over the next 25 years (see our previous blog, here) and this is cited as one of the reasons for the required increases in funding, as well as increases in the number of disabled adults and increases in wages. The IFS report says that “even if council tax revenues increased by 4.5% a year – more than double the rate of projected inflation – adult social care spending could amount to half of all revenue from local taxes by 2035.” The clear need for funds raises the question of how to make up the shortfall and provide adequate care for the less able and elderly of society. Do councils continue to rely on council tax and business rates for funding or are ring-fenced grants from Westminster the answer?
Jeremy Hunt, when he held the position of Health & Social Care Secretary, published a letter to independent hospitals on 8 May 2018 urging them to “get their house in order and improve safety.” One of the triggers for this was the Care Quality Commission (CQC) identifying that a third of independent hospitals “required improvement” as they demonstrated poor practice and unsafe care.
The Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) has now produced a Medical Practitioners Assurance Framework (2019) which has been described by Chair, Sir Bruce Keogh as the equivalent of firing “a starting gun …to improve care and confidence in the private sector.” A link to this framework is provided here.
The statutory duty of candour has been hailed the greatest reform in patient rights in the modern era. It was brought in under the Health & Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 as amended, in response to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry.
The regulation 20 duty of candour requirements are detailed and specific. There is an overriding obligation to be open and transparent, coupled with clear requirements to notify patients and/or their families where there is any unintended or unexpected incident, whether this amounts to an error or not. This notification must be prompt. Whilst the requirements are dependent upon the level of harm sustained, the underlying principles governing the provisions are focussed on ensuring that patients are kept properly informed and that errors and/or other unintended consequences are not ‘brushed under the carpet’.
The Office of National Statistics yesterday released a report on the potential future population size of the UK based on 2018 data.
Of note to the care sector is that the report highlights there will be an increasing numbers of older people in the future. The proportion of the population aged 85 years and over is projected to nearly double in the next 25 years – in 2018 there were 1.6 million people aged 85 years and over, but by mid 2043, this is expected to reach nearly 3 million. The report also considers growth in the different sectors of the population as divided between children/ working age people/pensioners, and predicts that by 2043 the numbers of people at pensionable age will have grown the most.
The data from this report is for use in planning and policy in areas such as pensions and healthcare. If the elderly population is set to double in the next quarter century, this inevitably will place further pressure on the care sector. We have talked in previous blogs about the lack of consensus about how the care system is to be funded and organised going forward. One can only hope that the government will take this report on board and consider the need for a robust and modern social care system.
A full copy of the report can be found here.
Written by Jennifer Johnston
Following today’s release of the latest State of Care report, we have reviewed the latest findings from the Care Quality Commission as to the overall quality of health and social care in England.
The charity, Independent Age, which provides advice and support for persons in older age, has produced a report calling for changes in the way adults can challenge decisions about their care. The report highlights the fact there is no statutory process of appeals, and it is for councils to put in place separate appeals processes on a local basis, if they chose to do so. Presently, there is a statutory complaints process via a complaint to the council, which can be followed by a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in the event of an unsatisfactory result, but this process is slow and with strict criteria.
The government consulted on a statutory appeals process in 2015, but since then has taken no further action. The Independent Age report calls on the government to revisit this issue, and sets out how it assumes such a process could work in practice.
With the care sector generally being seen as fragile and under pressure, it seems inevitable that bodies such as Independent Age are calling for a clearer way for service users to make changes in their social care provision. If there is a clearer and easier way for service users to appeal against the care provided, then it does seem foreseeable that this could be done in conjunction with claims for personal injury.
A copy of the full report can be found here.
Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM
Recent reports in the media suggest severe financial difficulties being suffered by the UK’s care home sector.
The Advinia Group is apparently under scrutiny from the CQC in terms of its cash flow and financial management. Advinia operates 38 homes in England and Scotland including 22 homes that it took over from BUPA in 2018, and is the UK’s 10th largest care home operator. It has been asked to submit to an independent audit of its finances under the CQC’s market oversight scheme. The Guardian newspaper reported on 6 October that leaked papers it had seen showed Advinia was not generating enough cash to meet capital and interest repayments, and had refused to submit to the independent audit. The CQC notified local authorities at the end of August of its concerns regarding the Advinia Group.