Hertfordshire County Council to urge PM to take urgent action to reform the social care system

Cllr Tindall had pointed to the crisis of funding and sustainability in adult care services

Friday, 25th June 2021, 1:01 pm
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 1:02 pm

Leading Hertfordshire county councillor Stella Nash is to urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take urgent action to reform the social care system.

Cllr Nash – who is the county council’s executive member for adult care health and wellbeing – was directed to write to the PM, after concerns were raised by Liberal Democrat Cllr Ron Tindall.

In a written motion – considered by the county council’s adult care, health and wellbeing cabinet panel on Tuesday, June 23, – Cllr Tindall had pointed to the crisis of funding and sustainability in adult care services.

Hertfordshire County Council to urge PM to take urgent action to reform the social care system
Hertfordshire County Council to urge PM to take urgent action to reform the social care system

And during the meeting councillors were also directed to consider further pressures, that included the increasing demand for social care, the financial pressures facing local authorities and the pressures on the workforce.

The Local Government Association (LGA) had already written to the Prime Minister earlier in the week.

And at the end of the debate it was agreed that Cllr Nash would write to Mr Johnson to echo the concerns of the LGA.

That letter from the LGA had called on the government to act now on the reform of the social care system – and to publish proposals before the ‘summer recess’.

As well as calling for ‘funding for short-term stabilisation’, it also called for longer-term reform to create a simpler fairer system.

And it called for investment to speed-up the move towards a system that is ‘sustainable and fit for the modern age’.

At the meeting Cllr Tindall stressed that if adult care services were to fail, the NHS would also fail.

“Enough is enough,” he said.

“Covid has exposed the dire needs of our care services, which do not have enough money, enough staff nor it seems enough will in government to do the job.

“The reason we still have well-run and functioning care services in Hertfordshire is simply because of the expertise and dedication of our staff.

“Without them we would be really in trouble. But they can’t carry on forever without recognition – and with the changes that we will need to maintain a sustainable service. We need reforms now.”

Cllr Tindall asked why with a National Health Service that was free at the point of delivery, there was not a national care service that was free at point of delivery.

And he stressed that the two services were “intertwine-able” – with one unable to survive without the other.

Labour Cllr Nigel Bell also supported a direct approach the PM directly, in addition to lobbying through other organisations. And he said Covid had shown how much this was needed.

Meanwhile Cllr Calvin Horner pointed to his own experience, relating to his brother’s care.

He suggested the problems in getting carers for his brother was a microcosm of problems of recruitment and retention across social care.

And he stressed that it was an issue that that needed ‘to be taken to the highest level’.

Cllr Peter Hebden agreed that social care was in need of reform. But he said the NHS – ‘run as a charity on a 1950s business model’ – was also in need of reform.

“If care sector fails, the NHS fails,” he said. “If the NHS fails the care sector fails. Both need reform.”

And he added: “You can’t fix the care sector without fixing the NHS.”

Echoing the need for NHS reform, fellow Conservative Cllr Richard Thake praised the “incredible performance of the front-line workers”.

But he said it was “stuffed full of middle management who actually do not achieve what the end product should be”.

And he said: “You can’t fault the front end workers . There is something seriously wrong in that stable if we keep throwing them billions of pounds that we do at it and it consistently fails to meet its targets – consistently fails to perform to the level that we collectively would like.

“This is an issue that has been made into a political football and every body -successive governments – are scared witless of actually facing up to the reality.”

In summing up Cllr Nash said she respected the motion, but urged councillors not to ‘take away’ from the NHS.

“Let’s not take away from the magnificent work that’s been done in the last year and this ongoing challenge that the NHS and our services have and will always have,” she said.

During the meeting it was recognised that traditionally the council would lobby for change though the LGA and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), in order to secure maximum influence on the sector.

But at the end of the debate it was agreed that Cllr Nash and the director of adult care services Chris Badger would draft a letter to the PM in support of the letter and statement from the LGA and ADASS.

This would, it was agreed, point to the urgency for social care reform, as part of the upcoming comprehensive spending review.