Press release


Thursday 8 December 2011

Backbenchers and Care Leaders vow to keep up the pressure over care scandals

Ministers should not underestimate strength of feeling over care funding.

At the latest Saga Thought Leadership Seminar today, in the House of Commons, Andrew Dilnot was given total support for his quest to see meaningful care reform urgently implemented.

Addressing the gathering of MPs, Peers and Care experts, he pulled no punches when criticising the current system.  He pointed out that it encourages people to cheat, causes inter-family strains and leads to fear that could be overcome with proper reform.

‘In my thirty years of looking at the British welfare state, this is the least efficient and least equitable part’ of our system, he said.

Politicians from all sides of both Houses of Parliament were united in calls for a kickstarting of care funding and support urgently proceeding with Andrew Dilnot’s proposals presented to government in the summer.  However, the Government has only promised a ‘progress report’ on this issue, which is not good enough.

“Andrew Dilnot urged everyone involved in care to make a lot more noise – and make sure MPs, and Ministers, recognise this as a potential vote-losing issue” said Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga, who chaired the Saga Thought Leadership Seminar.

“The gathered audience were also scathing about Government inactivity so far: For some reason the Treasury seems to want to avoid Dilnot’s proposals, because they seem to involve spending more public money. But that view is misconceived.  Government will have to spend far more money anyway, because inadequate care funding will merely push added costs onto the NHS, which is likely to then run out of funds.

 “The media is alive with scandals and stories of appalling behaviour and service in the care sector - how many scandals does it take to make Government feel the urgency? How many people have to suffer or die before they take enough notice?

“This is not just about personalisation of care once it is needed, it is about planning and preparing beforehand – and there simply seems to be no sense of urgency. Frankly, while this goes on, people are suffering needlessly - and dying.”

“We need to get people out there who are struggling to care for family members, or those who are really worried about it but haven’t spoken up to write to their MPs, and to lobby them so that the MPs know it is a voting issue.”

Andrew Dilnot says it is crucial that the profile of the issue of the impending care crisis is raised, urgently, with “modest” groups involved in care turning up the volume and making more noise.

“We need to raise the temperature. There’s something about the groups involved in care that means they are naturally rather modest. But this is not a minority sport – it will affect three-quarters of us. The big prize is the removal of fear.

The population, and politicians, faces a simple choice: either to allow the most vulnerable groups in our society to be appallingly underserved, or to engage in proper reform. We need to get traction, we need to raise the temperature. This is a vast issue – three-quarters of us face this issue before the end of our lives."

“There are many people who are not enjoying a quality of life – we need to raise this up the political agenda. We need to get the message to the PM, deputy PM, Leader of the Opposition that this is an issue you need to deal with. Now.”