M P Calls on More Action for Elderly Care
Speaking in Parliament last week, Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, called for reform to enable local elderly and vulnerable residents to be given better care. Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons on Social Care, the MP pointed out that "East Sussex has the second-highest proportion of over 85-year-olds in the country, and that number is expected to grow by 14% by 2021." Highlighting that thirty out of eighty five care homes in the constituency have failed their inspections, the MP went on to say "Not only does East Sussex have a large population of people who need to be looked after, but the system is clearly not working as it should."
The MP welcomed the additional £2bl of Government spending in the last budget and the decision to allow the County Council to introduce a social care council tax levy of 3%. However, the MP called for the funding of care to be centralised similar to NHs funding, pointing out that, in the constituency of Bexhill and Battle "33% of the working-age population are on the living wage, so to continue to expect council tax payers to fund the social care model will not help them get on in life and will not help intergenerational fairness."
The MP reserved praise for the local County Council, NHS Trust and GP Commissioning teams for their 'Better Together' programme which aims to merge budgets and services together. Explaining how he was working with all three institutions he said "our Accident and Emergency team is the most improved in England over the last six months because the Better Together partnership is now working. People are now getting out of hospital earlier." The MP asked the Health Minister, Jackie Doyle Price, to meet with him and his local health and care stakeholders to ensure that their efforts at working as one are not undermined by the historic practice of separate regulators inadvertently creating conflict between the local bodies who are trying to work together on the ground.
In calling for all political parties to work together to help improve care for the elderly and vulnerable, the MP concluded "In reality, [the Government] will have no majority for these five years, and social care will be reformed only if we work together. Please, can we do so?".
Speaking after the debate, Mr Merriman, a former member of the No10 Policy Board for Social Care, said "The Prime Minister has pointed out that we need reform if we are to give elderly people dignity in their older age. In a constituency such as mine, where we have a larger proportion of the elderly, it is even more pressing. For the future, we could do well to look at the German model, where all citizens contribute towards a social care insurance fund. This could operate alongside national insurance. For the present, I remain of the view that a system which requires people to sell their home to pay for residential care, whilst often not requiring a contribute for care in the home regardless of wealth, needs rebalancing. With so many of our local care homes failing, we need action. Taking the party politics out of this issue could unlock the door to reform. I look forward to playing my part to do so."
photo Huw visiting Mais House Care Home in Bexhill