Dear Prime Minister
As charities working with more than 14 million people in England who live with long-term health conditions, we believe that the NHS and Social Care system is now in the most perilous situation in living memory. Increased funding is crucial.
We are all too aware that pressures have been building for a number of years with long-running challenges impacting the delivery of day-to-day health and care services. It is also very clear that the combined effects of the pandemic and rising inflation have severely exacerbated problems facing the system. Health and social care staff are overstretched with a record 165,000 vacancies, and we are in no doubt they are working harder than ever.
Each and every day we hear from people who cannot access the right diagnosis, treatment and support and are suffering avoidable harm or severely impaired quality of life as a result. The case for a comprehensive workforce strategy, investment in fit-for-purpose premises and systems and measures to resolve the on-going crisis in social care is well made and must be urgently addressed.
While we must tackle the backlog of elective care that has built up over this period, it would be a mistake to think that addressing waiting lists is our only challenge. We must also recognise the extent to which the acute phase of the pandemic and subsequent cost of living crisis has substantially changed the trajectory of the nation’s health for the worse.
As our collective evidence makes clear, millions of people are now living in a poorer state of mental and physical health than would otherwise be the case. This, in turn, is impacting on their ability to work, live independently or care for their families. To do so effectively they will need on-going support from primary care, mental health and community services as well as social care.
This is why we are calling on Government to protect the NHS and Social Care system in the forthcoming Autumn Statement. Increased demand will not dissipate in the foreseeable future and services will need to develop their capacity in response. We therefore consider it essential that Government commit to:
- Plug the £7bn ‘blackhole’ in NHS budgets caused by rising inflation and provide sufficient capital investment to address the backlog of upgrades and repairs.
- Set out an immediate rescue plan for social care services to support providers manage cost pressures and recruitment challenges.
- Bring forward a long-term health and care workforce strategy and ambitious package of reforms addressing the underlying crisis in health and social care.
We can assure you that the situation has never been more critical.
On behalf of the Richmond Group of Charities
Asthma + Lung UK;
Breast Cancer Now;
British Heart Foundation;
British Red Cross;
Macmillan Cancer Support;
Rethink Mental Illness;
Royal Voluntary Service;
Press enquires: Liz.Fairweather@ageuk.org.uk I 07919 164968