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Reality Government panto is no laughing matter

Blog post 29 November 2017

Well, it didn’t take long before the Government’s own MPs were creating waves over Philip Hammonds Budget – you know, the one that bypassed social care.

The Observer broke the story on Saturday that two former Tory health secretaries and the Conservative chair of the Commons health committee said it was time to tackle the long-term health and social care funding crisis, which remains unresolved.

The article said the matter was being discussed “this week” and no doubt Mr Hammond will come under some pressure to rethink his strategy.

Observe article quote:

The former Conservative health secretary Stephen Dorrell, who is now the chair of the NHS Confederation, the membership body for health service care providers, said the budget boost did not resolve the “unsustainable” long-term levels of health and social care funding.

“It is extremely important that the two words ‘social care’ didn’t pass the chancellor’s lips on budget day,”

Dorrell said. “Having relieved short-term pressure, what we are now committed to is a set of budget numbers that, by the chancellor’s own implicit admission, will lead to a rebuilding of the pressure that he recognised in the spring was unsustainable.

“We know that, looking at the sector as a whole, no one thinks this is sustainable in anything other than the short term, and the short term is running out again. Will this [money in the budget] reverse the trends on waiting times? Clearly it doesn’t. The level of demand continues to grow. That can only lead to added demand going unmet.”

Andrew Lansley, health secretary under Mr Cameron’s government, is reported as saying further efficiencies in the system were now crucial.

Our association is awaretoo that the Local Government Association is disappointed at the budget and again has reiterated that if health wants to keep people out of hospitals, Government needs to address the chronic underfunding of social care.

Any fragmented Government is generally bad news for economic growth and national prosperity, but the cracks that are appearing over policy on social care monies, may just help our cause. Here’s hoping.

Social care for both young and old is creating a funding gap that some reports estimate will top £2.5bn by the end of the decade. It is Government that’s accountable.

The elephant in the room surely can be seen by all except those with selective visual impairment. It will soon be festive panto season where we’re all encouraged to shout: It’s behind you! The West Midlands Care Association has been shouting for more than a decade.

But unlike the lightweight entertainment at our theatres, where clumsy outcomes make us laugh, this reality ‘political production’ has only serious consequences and laughter would be the indulgence of only the most cynical.