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?
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
As the Political Party Conference season has drawn to a close we have examined the proposals of the main political parties in respect of social care. As we look ahead to a seemingly inevitable General Election, the conference agendas will be provide the best opportunity for a sneak peek at likely manifesto pledges.
As the only main political party which is committed to remaining in the EU, the Liberal Democrats consider that the main threat to a deterioration in care services is Brexit. It is believed that in order to guarantee continued access to medicines and treatments and create the economic conditions to restore cuts to key services, the UK should remain in the EU.
At their conference, proposals were put forward to increase income tax by 1p on the pound to create £6 billion which would be used to meet immediate priorities, reverse cuts and invest in mental health.
The Liberal Democrats also propose to establish a cross-party commission in respect of NHS and social care funding and introduce a dedicated social care tax to fund it.
Labour has committed to introducing a free personal care for people over the age of 65 and create a National Care Service. The overall cost is estimated at £8 billion and an eligibility criteria will apparently be set in due course. It is not clear who would be ineligible as Labour’s vision is seemingly to provide the same level of support to everyone regardless of location and make social care free at the point of need.
Labour also pledge to address the funding crisis and support Local Councils by building capacity to enable councils to deliver care in-house as opposed to out-sourcing services and to improve the access to training by care staff.
Social care seemed to be high on the agenda of Boris Johnson following his election as leader of the Conservative Party, as he pledged on the steps of Downing Street on 1st August that his government would fix the social care crisis once and for all.
Whilst the Conservatives have pledged further funding for the NHS, Mr Johnson did not mention plans for social care in his conference speech. The Minister for Health and Social Care Caroline Dinenage MP could not attend the conference due to commitments in Westminster and was unwilling to provide any substantial comment.
We are therefore none the wiser as to how the present government plan to tackle the crisis, or meet the gap in funding. We would expect greater scrutiny of the Conservatives and their plans for social care in the run up to any General Election.
Impact on the care system
All parties agree that the issue of Social Care needs to be addressed, with the Liberal Democrats and Labour pledging significant funding and the Conservatives expected to detail their own plans.
We are in a period of great uncertainty and it is difficult to know how the departure from the EU and a possible General Election will directly affect the care system going forward.
For the moment, there is no foreseeable change in the way the care system will be funded. Care homes will likely continue to operate under funding pressures .According to the Liberal Democrats and the leaked documents from Operation Yellowhammer this situation will worsen if Britain leaves the EU. There is reference to stockpiling of medicines and increasing cost generally .How this manifests into claims is really a wait and see?
Written by Katie Murphy, solicitor at BLM
The Government and other bodies such as the Care Providers Alliance are urging health and social care providers to ensure they have done everything they can to prepare for a potential No Deal Brexit on 31 October.
The National Audit Office published a report at the end of September noting that whilst the Department of Health and Social Care had undertaken a lot of work since June 2016 to prepare the sector for leaving the EU, there was still a lot of work to be done before 31 October in respect of the social care sector. For example the report notes that whilst the NHS has taken steps to stockpile medication for immediate use across the healthcare sector, care homes often rely upon non NHS suppliers for supplies of items such as rubber gloves. The Department did not originally advise the social care sector to stockpile such items, but rather advised that care providers should be simply “ready to deal with any disruption”.