UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 18 February 2013

UNISONActive Analysis: A Coalition of Care

Con Dem Secretary of State for Health – Murdoch’s little helper Jeremy Hunt – claimed to have solved the crisis in care last week.

He said “This is a watershed moment for our country...and we will give everyone the protection they want in their old age and save the family home.” Sad to report but his magic bullet has missed the target.

He (for “he” read “you”) is to spend £1 billion extra to protect the inheritance of some middle aged children who face inheriting less than they had hoped for it their parents sell their home to fund care.

Not one penny of this £1 billion will go towards providing more care or improving care standards for our fast ageing population.

The real target is the crumbling care system that so many families are struggling with here and now and Hunt offers no hope in that direction:

Andy Burnham, Labours Shadow Secretary of Health, is calling for a full merger of health and social care. His simple and attractive idea is for “whole life care” and builds on the original concept for our NHS and Welfare system – from cradle to grave.

But, what will it cost?

· How much more will families have to contribute?

· Will this mean massive upheaval in “the system” coming on top of the changes made by the Health and Social Care Act?

Families faced with problems today know that something has to be done and done quickly:

In less than four months our NHS will be 65 years old. It has served us well and although the enemies of health care for all are using the current crises to disparage the service we know different. We know that thousands and thousands of health care workers provide dedicated service day in day out. UNISON and the wider trade movement know it is our duty to defend the NHS and will continue to do so – but we also need to look forward.

We need a national care service that:

· Removes the current post code lottery of charges for care at home;

· Sets (and maintains through rigorous inspection) high standards for care in both nursing and domiciliary provision.

· Encourages quality training for all care staff. Staff who are recognised and rewarded fairly for their contribution to the good society.

· Supports the work done by family carers – and recognises their worth.

The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) – led by the indefatigable Dot Gibson and supported by giants of our movement like Rodney Bickerstaffe – has calculated that we would need £10 billion to support such a service:

The NPC say the funding could come from a combination of savings from other areas of care expenditure; re-prioritising existing government spending and increasing taxation. However, even if all the money were to be raised through income tax someone earning £25,000 p.a. would pay an extra 75p a day.

The NPC wouldn’t claim to have all the answers but we all need to stop agonizing and start organising. We need a “Coalition of Care”. A coalition of trade unions, community groups such as the NPC to call for change and to make it happen.

There is no alternative.

Frank Hont