The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 2nd December 2016

Care for the elderly facing collapse

THE FUNDING for care for the elderly is facing a perfect storm of Government cuts to local authority funding, rising costs and restrictions to NHS funding according to senior doctors and submissions from all the major political parties in local government. They warn that the system is very close to collapse and that the safety of millions of elderly people is at risk.

There is a funding gap of £2.6 billion that was not addressed in last week’s Budget Statement from Philip Hammond and the council leaders warn that if it is not filled: “The quality and safety of care of our elderly is at risk and the vulnerable will increasingly struggle to receive the help they need to meet basic needs such as washing, dressing or getting out of bed.”

They added that May cannot claim to be governing for everyone if she fails to act to help the elderly and most vulnerable: “The social care crisis is real and it is happening right now. The Government cannot ignore it any longer if we are to truly have a society that works for everyone.”

New figures obtained by the Observer show that 77 of the 152 local authorities responsible for providing care for the elderly have seen at least one residential and nursing care provider close in the last six months because cuts to council budgets meant that there were insufficient funds to run adequate services.

In 48 councils, at least one company that provides care for the elderly in their own homes has ceased trading over the same period, placing councils under sudden and huge pressure to find alternative provision. In addition, 59 councils have had to find new care arrangements after contracts were handed back by a provider who decided that they were unable to make ends meet on the money that councils were able to pay them.


The private sector providers complain that they cannot afford to sustain a decent standard of care as prices rise, staff wages rise but the money that the council can afford to pay them is cut.

The medical profession, a powerful cross-party alliance of council leaders and even the former Tory health secretary, Andrew Lansley, are appalled that the social care crisis “exacerbated by growing numbers of elderly people and the rising costs of paying staff” was not addressed in the autumn statement.

In a letter to the Observer, the leaders of the four main political groups in local government expressed their disquiet at the Chancellor’s dismissing talk of a crisis despite calls from politicians, NHS leaders, doctors and others.

“The fact the Government appears to have chosen not to act will lower the quality of life for our elderly and vulnerable residents,” they said.

The crisis in the care homes is having a knock-on effect in delaying the discharge of elderly patients from hospitals who have finished their treatment but can no longer look after themselves.This is forcing hospitals to delay admissions to hospital of other patients in need of operations and other treatments because there are not enough beds.

John McDonnell. The Shadow Chancellor, in his response to Hammond’s Budget Statement last week, referred to the £5 billion cuts to social care over the past six years.

He said that there are now over one million people needing social care who are not getting it. And he said that the provision made by Hammond is just a stop-gap measure and totally inadequate.

He said: “You can’t cut social care without hitting the NHS. Cuts to local authorities’ social care budgets result in older people staying in hospital much longer than is necessary. Elderly patients, many of whom are living at home alone with little support, are regularly being admitted to A&E after falls or for acute infections. They then get stuck in hospitals because there is nowhere for them to go to continue their recovery.” And he predicted the possibility of a crisis in funding over Christmas this year.