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Largan column: 'We need to work together to fix our care system'

High Peak MP Robert Largan.

In his latest column, High Peak MP Robert Largan writes about the urgent need to find a long-term solution for social care across the country.

Last week in Parliament, I raised the urgent need to work together to fix our social care system.

For the last few decades, governments of all parties have failed to grasp the nettle on social care. If we don’t find a way to work together now, we will end up paying for that failure for generations to come.

I am proud to have stood up for our local carers (both paid and unpaid) and for our local care homes, including campaigning on a cross-party basis to save Goyt Valley House in New Mills. Carers do an amazing job but the current system doesn’t help them enough.

The truth is that Britain’s current social care arrangements are opaque, unfair and simply unsustainable. Some people are being forced to sell their home to pay for their care when they fall ill later in life. Carers are having to work very long hours, with limited resources and without getting paid anywhere near enough.

The problems in social care have a knock-on impact on the NHS. In a 2016 report, the National Audit Office found that delayed discharges cost the NHS roughly £1 billion. The most recent figures show that delayed discharges totalled roughly 1.7 million days – of which two fifths were either solely or partially due to problems in the social care system. Such delays cascade back through the system all the way back to A&E, putting our health service under enormous pressure and putting lives at risk.

Councils are also having to devote an ever-increasing portion of their budgets to care, which has an impact on other local services too. A lack of integration between council-run care services and the NHS leads to further difficulties, inefficiencies and a care system which is difficult to navigate.

This is only going to get worse. We have an ageing population. There are 5.3 million over-75s today. That number will double over the next 40 years. People are living longer and have more complex and expensive care needs.

The Government are bringing forward reforms to better integrate our care system and the NHS and has done some important work developing a long term plan for care. But fundamentally this issue comes down to money.

We need to find a way to fairly and sustainably fund our care system, to deliver world class care, pay carers what they deserve and end the scandalous situation where some people are forced to sell their home to pay for care.

There are no easy solutions, silver bullets or magic wands. One way or another, we will have to pay a little more. That’s why I stood up in Parliament last week and urged the Government to work on a cross-party basis to bring forward proposals urgently. This issue is bigger than petty party politics. Let’s work together to fix our care system.

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