My mum is a nurse and former care assistant for the elderly in the Rossendale valley, just North of Manchester. My great-grandma was a resident in one of the homes for many years. My aunty and my grandma also worked there. I spent a lot of time visiting these places as I was growing up, so I know from personal experience just how far a properly funded adult social care system can go in meeting the needs of vulnerable adults.
I also know that adult care, given the respect and attention it deserves, takes pressure off hospital A&E units by preventing medical emergencies.
As a councillor, I know the huge pressures councils are facing in the support that they can offer because the Tory government are starving communities of the money they need to look after people who need care.
Recently, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services called for emergency government funding of £1bn for 2017-18 just to avert a crisis in social care. The government last week offered £2bn over three years. This is nowhere near enough to even avert a crisis, never mind create a service that is sustainable.
Of course, this crisis also effects the NHS, which is creaking under the pressure of adults with nowhere to be discharged to. Only last week I spoke to a friend whose grandfather was in hospital for three days more than should have been necessary simply because there was no-where for him to go – making him feel unnecessarily guilty about simply being unwell.
Yet the Tories refuse to fund the NHS properly, instead preferring to give tax cuts to millionaires. Manchester Council is planning to deliver £12 million of savings over the next three years by integrating services. They could do so much more if that money were not being taken away from them.
The National Audit Office last month said that this government has not delivered for patients in its work so far, and that the plan for integrated health and social care by 2020 is ‘at significant risk.’ We simply must do better.
That is why I would always fight for an NHS and Adult Social Care system to be well integrated and properly funded. Our priority should be on good care before people end up in A&E, and on funding care for the most vulnerable properly rather than giving handouts to the wealthy.
The Labour Party needs to remove the marketisation of NHS services by bringing the entire service back into public hands. When you introduce competition into public service, wages fall and standards slip.
The cap on public sector pay cuts should be abolished so that staff feel properly rewarded for the amazing work they do, and so we can retain the doctors, nurses and ancillary staff that the service depends on.
Mental health services must be treated with the seriousness that they deserve.
The Labour Party built the NHS. Only the Labour Party gives the NHS the funding and respect it deserves. It is time the government got a grip, so that people can truly get a comprehensive health and care service, from cradle to grave.