Calls for Prime Minister to begin cross-party process on health and social care

11 January 2017

Sense has joined 75 organisations and leading voices in signing an open letter to the Prime Minister, asking her to urgently begin a cross-party process to find a long-term solution to the current crisis in health and social care funding.

The letter has been signed by 75 organisations and leading voices in the sector including Independent Age, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Care England, Patients Association, Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Nursing, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE), Leonard Cheshire Disability, Marie Curie and RNIB.

The letter warns that “2017 simply cannot be another year where these huge issues are ducked” and that unless the Prime Minister takes “a bolder approach millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers will continue to be badly let down.”

This builds on calls last week from three Select Committee Chairs, Sarah Wollaston MP (Health Committee), Meg Hillier MP (Public Accounts Committee) and Clive Betts MP (Communities and Local Government Committee) for a cross-party agreement on health and social care funding.

The joint letter from organisations across the health and social care sector is published on the day that Norman Lamb MP launches a group of MPs calling for a cross-party approach on health and social care funding.

Today’s letter adds the voice of significant charities, organisations and leading voices working in health and social care to those of MPs, and sets out what kind of a cross-party agreement should be sought.

The 75 organisations and leading voices signed up to the letter are clear that the cross-party process must recommend clear actions that have the support of all parties, and that will ultimately make a difference to the lives of many older, ill and disabled people who rely on health and care services.

This cross-party process must begin immediately to find a sustainable solution to the problems in health and social care funding and have the political will behind it to deliver meaningful change. The letter states that the process “should recognise that just as no one party should be blamed for the current challenges, nor can a genuinely long term solution be owned only by one party.”

The open letter calls for the cross-party process to be:

  • Inclusive: established by the government with meaningful cross-party engagement
  • Open: listening to the public and professionals who use and work in these services every day
  • Urgent: ensuring the cross-party process gets underway without delay.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity, said:

“We have heard many times that there needs to be a long-term solution on health and social care, yet we have heard no details from Government as to what that solution may be. The failure of successive governments to act on this issue means that many of the most vulnerable people in society cannot get the care and support they need.

“By 2030, it is estimated that there will be nearly 16 million people in the UK aged 65 and over[1]. Brave thinking is required from all sides of the political divide to meet the needs of our ageing population. We need to see recommendations that make a difference to the millions of people who rely on health and care services now and in the future.”

Norman Lamb MP, a former Minister at the Department for Health and the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on health and social care said:

“The health and social care system in England is facing unprecedented challenges. Failing to find a solution to this crisis puts some of the most vulnerable people at risk – frail and elderly people in need of care services, disabled people who need support and people with long-term illnesses.

Building a sustainable health and care system that can provide the kind of high-quality care people expect can’t be realised without putting aside party political point-scoring.

That is why I’m supporting this call by Independent Age and a coalition of organisations across the health and care sector and I’m launching a cross-party group of MPs that will campaign specifically for agreement on health and social care funding.”

On Wednesday 11 January, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, gives evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on the financial sustainability of the NHS.

Full text of the open letter

Dear Prime Minister,

There can be no doubt about the scale of the challenges facing health and social care services in England. Barely a day goes by without news of immediate problems – service reductions, missed targets – and warnings of future failings. 2017 simply cannot be another year where these huge issues are ducked.

While the Government has taken some short term steps to try and relieve the pressures on the NHS and local authorities, without more fundamental action, these challenges will accelerate as our population increases and ages.

Although you have recognised the need to find a longer term solution, you have not yet said how you will go about developing one. Unless you adopt a bolder approach millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers, will continue to be badly let down.

That’s why we are now calling for the government to establish a cross-party process to review and recommend action on future health and social care funding.

We believe that process should be:

  • Inclusive: established by the government with meaningful cross party engagement
  • Open: listening to the public and professionals who use and work in these services every day
  • Urgent: the cross party process should get underway without delay but this should not prevent shorter term investment, particularly to support the care system

Such a process should not aim to ‘take the politics out of health and care’ but rather to make clear the costs and consequences of the political decisions that must be made. It should recognise that just as no one party should be blamed for the current challenges, nor can a genuinely long term solution be owned only by one party.

Brave thinking is required to ensure the right recommendations are backed with political will. There can be no room for complacency. The time to act is now.

Signatories to the open letter to the Prime Minister

  1. Janet Morrison, Chief Executive, Independent Age
  2. Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing
  3. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair, Royal College of GPs
  4. Cathie Williams, Chief Officer, ADASS
  5. Jo Miller, President, SOLACE
  6. Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive, Carers UK
  7. Dr Jane Collins, CEO, Marie Curie
  8. Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive, Patients Association
  9. Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England
  10. Colin Angel, Policy and Campaigns Director, UK Home Care Association
  11. Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman, National Care Association
  12. Frank Ursell, Chief Executive, Registered Nursing Home Association
  13. Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum
  14. Neil Heslop, Chief Executive, Leonard Cheshire Disability
  15. Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
  16. Jan Tregelles, Chief Executive, Royal Mencap Society
  17. Sally Harvey, Interim Chief Executive, RNIB
  18. Paul Breckell, Chief Executive, Action on Hearing Loss
  19. Steve Vaid, Acting Chief Executive, Guide Dogs
  20. Richard Kramer, Deputy CEO, Sense
  21. Rt Hon Prof Paul Burstow, Former Minister of State for Care
  22. Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive, CIPFA
  23. David Sinclair, Director, ILC-UK
  24. Eileen Burns, President, British Geriatrics Society
  25. Irene Sobowale, CEO, The Disabilities Trust
  26. Lisa Lenton, Director, ARC England
  27. Sue Adams OBE, Chief Executive, Care and Repair England
  28. Robert Stephenson-Padron, Managing Director, Penrose Care Agency
  29. Ian Cumming MBE, Director of Fundraising and Communications, Guideposts
  30. Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation
  31. Lisa Hopkins, Chief Executive, SeeAbility
  32. Tim Cooper, CEO, United Response
  33. Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive, Anchor
  34. Azra Kirkby, Interim CEO, Real Life Options
  35. Alex Fox OBE, CEO, Shared Lives Plus
  36. Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT
  37. Sue Browning, CEO, Spinal Injuries Association
  38. Michael Voges, Executive Director, ARCO
  39. Gary FitzGerald, CEO, Action on Elder Abuse
  40. Simon Chapman, Director of Policy and External Affairs, National Council for Palliative Care
  41. Jonathan Senker, Chief Executive, VoiceAbility
  42. Dr Rhidian Hughes, CEO, VODG
  43. Susan Hale, General Manager, Colostomy Association
  44. Carol Boys, Chief Executive, Down's Syndrome Association
  45. David McCullough, Chief Executive, Royal Voluntary Service
  46. Mark Lever, Chief Executive, National Autistic Society
  47. Sue Bott, Deputy Chief Executive, Disability Rights UK
  48. Judi Rhys, CEO, Arthritis Care
  49. Tracey Bleakley, CEO, Hospice UK
  50. Dr Mohsin Khan, Co-founder and Chief Policy Officer, NHS Survival
  51. Dr Sam Barrell, Chief Executive, Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust
  52. Phil Pegler, Chief Executive, Community Integrated Care
  53. Justin Irwin, Chief Executive, Family and Childcare Trust
  54. Kirsty Woodard, Ageing without Children
  55. Derek Cribb, Chief Executive, Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
  56. Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive, Carers Trust
  57. Oonagh Aitken, CEO, Volunteering Matters
  58. Mr Adam Williams, President, Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT)
  59. Mr Simon Fleming, President, British Orthopaedic Trainees Association
  60. Dr Matt Mayer, Chair, GP Survival
  61. Olivia Belle, Director of External Affairs, Arthritis Research UK
  62. Professor Julienne Meyer, City University
  63. Dr Zoe Norris, Chair of Sessional Subcommittee, General Practitioners Committee UK
  64. Dr Phil Hammond, NHS Associate Specialist & Vice Chair of The Patients Association
  65. Dr Umesh Prabhu, Consultant Paediatrician and Medical Director
  66. Mr Dermot O’Riordan, Consultant Surgeon
  67. Mr Johann Malawana, Director, The Healthcare Leadership Academy
  68. Stella Vig, Consultant Vascular Surgeon and Royal College of Surgeons Council Member
  69. Prof. Nigel Standfield, Professor of Vascular Surgery and Surgical Education and Royal College of Surgeons Council Member
  70. Mr Shafi Ahmed, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon and Royal College of Surgeons Council Member
  71. Mr Richard Kerr, Former President of Society of British Neurological Surgeons and Royal College of Surgeons Council Member
  72. Dr Peter JP Holden, British Medical Association Council Member and Treasurer of Derbyshire LMC
  73. Dr Rob Galloway, Emergency Medicine Consultant
  74. Mr Ben Dean, Orthopaedic Registrar and Honorary Research Fellow
  75. Roshana Mehdian, Orthopaedic Registrar and Assistant Course Director, The Healthcare Leadership Academy

[1] Population projections, ONS, October 2015