14 Nov 2023

Homecare Association responds to the appointment of Victoria Atkins MP as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Victoria Atkins has been appointed to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The Homecare Association’s CEO, Dr Jane Townson, said:

The Homecare Association congratulates Victoria Atkins on her appointment as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and looks forward to engaging constructively with her.

Social care and health services are interdependent, and we urge the new Secretary of State to give equal attention to both. Social care is an important sector of the economy in its own right. It employs 1.6 million people and contributes over £55 billion p.a. to gross domestic product.

With the positive intentions and progress of the government’s reform and integration agendas, as well as their focus on improving the NHS, including mental health, there is cause for optimism.

We are, however, disappointed by the absence of emphasis on social care in the current government’s agenda.

Demand is outstripping supply and workforce shortages are at record levels. Councils are reporting high levels of unmet need in the community and NHS hospitals are struggling to discharge people back home due to inadequate capacity in homecare.

Delayed discharge from hospital means that beds are unavailable for new admissions, which contributes to increased ambulance waiting times, cancelled clinics and cancelled operations. This makes it difficult for the NHS to respond in a timely way to emergencies and to reduce waiting lists, contributing to avoidable deaths.  

Poor pay, terms and conditions of employment have long been a problem for the homecare workforce, particularly in the state-funded part of the sector which represents 70% of the whole. These stem from inadequate funding by central government and poor practices in commissioning and purchase of homecare by public sector organisations.

We call on the government to:

  1. Recognise social care as a vital part of the economy, which requires its own industrial strategy.
  2. Invest in education and employment to support its growth to meet the needs of our ageing population.