Health minister Norman Lamb recently publicised alarming views on the National Health Service, stating he believes it will fail within two years without more substantial financial support provided by the government. Lamb believes the NHS is at risk and that the government fails to recognise the size of the problem. A growing elderly population squeezing services and failure to identify what this means financially, means that without a multibillion pound funding increase, the care sector could face serious consequences.
Promises from the Tories prior to the election included an additional £8bn for health services by 2020 on top of £2bn already pledged last year. However, Lamb remains concerned this is not enough and the government is providing insufficient funds to support the cost of required care. On top of existing financial pressures, care services and providers will be hit by the change to minimum wages and the European ruling that travel can be included as work. The new report from NICE calling for care visits to last a minimum of 30 minutes – obviously desirable for patients and all those working in the industry – adds to these challenges and fails to account for how this would be paid for.
Among possible solutions voiced are radical ideas on funding, such as a potential NHS tax or a rise in national insurance contributions. Additionally, NHS England believes the sector faces a £30bn annual loss by 2021 unless essential changes are made through how health care is provided. One option is to keep the elderly out of hospital until it is absolutely necessary, which could be supported by care at home; a service provided by Prestige Nursing + Care. Care at home reduces the impact of bed-blocking – a topic touched upon in a previous blog by Prestige – and provides support which can act as a preventative measure, while also helping the elderly to maintain their independence for longer.
What is clear, is that in order for the care sector to survive, it urgently needs extra funding from the government as well as joined up thinking across health and social care and the NHS. Only by supporting each other and creating an overarching plan can the challenge be tackled.