Taking care of everyone in times of crisis

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In the first of a two-part series, Nick Andrews, a local Labour Party member, outlines the case for a National Care Service:

The Covid-19 epidemic is a punctuation point, a pause in our lives. All of us have reappraised the things that are important to us, as individuals and as a society.

Ordinary people are now keenly aware of care workers and their plight. The NHS has strengthened its position as a hugely valued, core part of our national identity. Furthermore, we are all now sharply aware our dependence on key workers, in all aspects of our lives.

It’s time for a National Care Service

The need for strong local and national government, to take care of us in times of crisis has never been clearer. Social care touches on these universal truths:

  • We all want to be treated with dignity and respect when we need care.
  • We do not want access to care to be entangled with massive financial worries.
  • We do want our family to face catastrophic care costs.
  • We should never have to lose our family home to pay for care.
  • Our unpaid family carers must be supported and relieved of the huge pressure on them.
  • We must make sure our professional care workers are fairly paid and fairly treated for their valuable work.

The current social-care system is unsustainable – ethically, economically, and socially. It cannot continue to be delivered in its current fragmented form. We need a National Care Service.

How can we make it happen?

Friends and neighbours have clapped the NHS and Care workers every Thursday during the Covid-19 crisis. One of my neighbours said to me, “I know the system isn’t right, but what can I do? I can’t organise care workers being paid more – even though I want that to happen”.

What she can do; what we all can do, is Vote for a National Care Service, Vote Labour.

“But,” some people say, “if we vote Labour, our taxes could go up and we may lose money!” They should remember: keep things as they are, and care costs could lose them all their money!

But why the Labour Party?

We must never forget that the NHS was created by the Labour Party. And is there any other public service or institution that produces such powerful, positive and coherent feelings?

Only Labour can create a National Care Service that delivers:

Free personal care for the benefit of all, including the NHS

It is generally understood that there are social-care patients in hospital who should not be. By providing free-at-the-point-of-use social care, we can reduce admissions to hospitals and ensure that people get support in their own homes.

This is what most patients want and, indeed, what most hospital doctors, nurses and managers want. This shift to home care is particularly relevant when we consider how to avoid some of the horrendous problems faced during Covid-19.

Proper pay for social care workers

Care staff will be working for properly funded local authorities and their contracts will create a highly trained, well rewarded workforce, with the professional working conditions they deserve.

Dignity and respect for everyone

The new service will meet everyone’s social care needs. This will minimise financial uncertainty for patients and their families and remove the current arbitrary regional variations in care provision.

General taxation will fund the service. The estimated cost is £8 billion. Post-Covid, this feels like a reasonable and manageable sum.

Illness and disability can happen to anyone; old age happens to us all

Over half of social care spending is on working-age people who have fallen ill or are disabled. This could be any one of us. We need a National Care Service, vote Labour to get one.

Nick explains why he is such a strong advocate for a National Care Service in the second part of this series:

Join the campaign for a National Care Service

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