Report from “Goodbye Cinderella: Time for A New Settlement for Care Services”

Diana Barnes, Unison Retired Members’ Section, attended The Old People’s Day online event – Goodbye Cinderella: Time for A New Settlement for Care Servicesa National Pensioners’ Convention Webinar  

Report:  Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary was, as ever, an efficient Chair, cutting off one speaker when she exceeded her 5 minutes! We first watched a video showing what it was like for care workers during the worst of the pandemic. They bitterly resented being classed as low-skilled, and were angry about the lack of support, testing and adequate PPE. 

Jan said: “The NPC called this emergency webinar summit to highlight the scandalous neglect of the UK’s care system, and to discuss a viable alternative – the establishment of a National Care Service, free at the point of need for all like the NHS.

Tragically in 2020, NPC members worst fears about the impact on older people of the ongoing neglect, lack of investment and increasing privatisation of the UK’s care sector were realised when Covid-19 raged through our care homes.

The tragic deaths of tens of thousands of older people, shortages of protective equipment; issuing of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) letters and the distress experienced by the care sector staff during this awful pandemic are well documented. As the country faces a second spike of the pandemic, it is clear the care sector desperately needs urgent reform, yet the Government has delayed its promise of change until next year.

While the government have promised to invest hundreds of millions in the sector and make PPE free to all care homes until March, we seriously worry this is still not going to be enough to save lives, and the heartbreak of even more families this winter. The system is broken beyond repair.”

NPC proposes, in its leaflet “Goodbye Cinderella”, a National Care Service, funded by additional taxes, and free. Research has been done, even by the Daily Express who ran a Poll of its readers, and people have said they would be willing to pay more if those funds could be ring-fenced. It should be joined up with the NHS, but not fully integrated. N.Ireland had gone for full integration, and then its funding was cut- that must be avoided. 

There was universal dismay at the government’s handling of the pandemic, particularly concerning care homes: too little, too late, promises untrue (“ring of steel around the care homes”!) or unfulfilled, and this is still happening. Boris Johnson is predicting millions of tests, but they’re not happening, though things are improving.