Government urged to publish social care plans amid delays

PA

Thousands of people have died waiting for care since the Government first said it would publish a green paper on social care, a charity has said.

Age UK estimates that just over 54,000 people have died while waiting for a care package in the days since the Government said in March 2017 it would publish a paper.

The paper has been delayed several times and is now due some time this year.

It will set out how the funding of social care can be reformed, such as introducing a payment system where people save to fund care in their later years.

Age UK said that over the same timeframe, it estimates that 626,701 people have had their requests for social care refused by their council, and 7,240 older people have had to use their savings for care bills.

More than a million older people have also developed an unmet need in that time, such as needing help with washing or dressing, the charity said.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “These tragic new figures demonstrate just how many older people are now suffering from the Government’s failure to act decisively on social care.

“No one can say whether some of those who have died might have lived longer had they received care, but at the very least their final weeks and months might have been more comfortable and their families’ lives made easier, had they been given more support.

“Some policymakers talk about social care as though it was some kind of ‘nice to have’ discretionary purchase, but for older people whose health is in decline and who may be approaching the end of their lives it is an absolutely vital public service, and sustaining it and ensuring it is of good quality ought to be a top Government priority.

“However, the fact we have waited so long for the green paper and that its publication has been delayed five times calls this seriously into question.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring everyone has access to the care and support they need and have provided local authorities with access to up to £3.6 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year and up to £3.9 billion for next year to help meet people’s needs.

“We are determined to make social care sustainable for the future and will publish our proposals in a green paper shortly.”