Skip to main content

Coalition cuts hit social care for the elderly

In the run up to the general election I am wary of many statements I hear abut the NHS and social care.  One general statement is that 'it isn't all a question of money'.  This is true - of course it isn't all about funding.  But what are we to take from such a statement. It is usually made when people complain about the level of funding.  It is a 'catch all' reply.  It is also somewhat disingenuous as a reply because it is meant to avoid the real issue, funding.  We now spend 17% less on social care than we did I've years ago.  This is not surprising because  social care is mostly funded through local government, which has seen its financial support from central government cut by over 40 per cent in real terms since 2010.  Yes, 40%!  That is the nature of what we have been doing over the last 5 years to 'cut the deficit'.  

In his budget last week Mr Osborne cut taxes on beer and spirits to try to generate a 'feel good' factor for the general election. It was a cynical ploy.  His 'cuts' in taxes leave a £10 billion black hole in funding for public services.  If he was serious about cutting the deficit then he wouldn't cut his tax revenue. 

We have been in a strange state of hear no evil, see no evil in relation to 'the deficit'.  One of the successes we might have been proud of in the decade running up to 2010 is that pensioner poverty had bee substantial reduced.  Now that has been reversed with spending on the elderly cut by 17% in real terms over the last five years.  

Overall spending on adult social care services was £14.6 billion last year with  46 per cent of that  spent on people over 65. From April this year the Better Care Fund will transfer £3.8 billion from the NHS budget to support spending on social care.   This should also  benefit the NHS  by reducing pressure on hospitals.  But let's face the facts of this. It is arranging the deck chairs and not necessarily fixing the problem.  

The NHS has endured cuts of some £20 billion in 'efficiency savings'.   This is another euphemism I am wary of.  There is an idea that we can cut funding in ways that does not affect 'front line' services. It is as if the 'front line' was not dependent for function on the back staff, when of course it is.  We hear often of the admin work that front line staff have to do.  

Another statement I am wary of is 'we are spending more on the NHS'.  Again it is true, but it is disengenous. Spending on the NHS has gone up in real terms during the last five years by and average of 0.9 % per year.  This is the lowest average annual change of any parliament.  It  contrasts with average annual increases of 5.7 per cent under the Labour administrations between 1997 and 2010 and 3.2 per cent under the Conservative administration between 1979 and 1997.  Even Thatcher outspent this coalition government on the NHS!

Yet with massive cuts in funding for social care the burden has increasingly fallen on the NHS.  The result: an NHS crisis. 

So as we rejoice over a pint of beer let's think of the cost of that penny cut in tax. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The lion and the wildebeest

Birds flock, fish school, bees swarm, but social being is more than simply sticking together.  Social groups enable specialisation and a sharing of abilities, and enhances ability, learning and creating new tricks. The more a group works together, the more effective they become as a team.  Chimpanzees learn from each other how to use stones to crack nuts, or sticks to get termites.  All around us we see cooperation and learning in nature.  Nature is inherently creative.  Pulling together becomes a rallying cry during a crisis.  We have heard it throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  "We are all in this together", a mantra that encourages people to adopt a common strategy. In an era of 'self-interest' and 'survival of the fittest,'  and 'selfish gene', we lose sight of the obvious conclusion from the evidence all around us.   Sticking together is more often the better approach.  This is valid for the lion as it is also for the wildebeest.   We don't

No evidence for vaccine link with autism

Public health bodies are worried that an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations is leading to a resurgence of diseases in childhood that we had all but eradicated.  Misinformation and scare stories about the harmful effects of vaccines abound on the internet and in social media.  Where they are based on 'science', it is highly selective, and often reliance is placed on falsehoods.  Conspiracy theories also abound - cover-ups, deception, lies. As a result, too many parents are shunning vaccinations for their children.  So, what does the published, peer-reviewed literature tell us about vaccincations? Are they safe and effective, or are there long term harmful effects?  A new report now provides some of the answers. New evidence published in the Cochrane Library today finds MMR, MMRV, and MMR+V vaccines are effective and that they are not associated with increased risk of autism. Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (also known as chickenpox) are infectious diseases cau

Therapeutic animal stress

Interacting with animals is known to be therapeutic,  particularly in reducing stress.  But do we consider sufficiently the effects this may have on the animals involved?   We might assume that because it is calming for us, then it must be so for the therapeutic animals, but is this so?  New research suggests that it isn't always without stress for the animals involved.  Positive human-animal interaction relates to changes in physiological variables both in humans and other animals, including a reduction of subjective psychological stress (fear, anxiety) and an increase of oxytocin levels in the brain.  It also reduces the 'stress' hormone, cortisol. Indeed, these biological responses have measurable clinical benefits.  Oxytocin has long been implicated in maternal bonding, sexual behaviour and social affiliation behaviours and in promoting a sense of well-being .  So far, so good.  We humans often turn to animals for stress relief, companionship, and even therapy.  We kno