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Cambridgeshire ‘crisis in care’ motion points finger firmly at Conservative government

Labour says Cambridgeshire has suffered from the chronic underfunding of social care

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The crisis in social care will be debated at Cambridgeshire County Council tomorrow (Tuesday) with the finger pointed firmly at the Conservative government. The council will debate a motion which slams the state of social care provision under the current government.

It will also be urged to look to the future and prepare to co-operate with a Labour Government, who remain favourites to win the next General Election. Labour is expected to set up a National Care Service.

Reforms are debated in the Fabian/Unison trade union paper “Support Guaranteed: The Roadmap to a National Care Service.”

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Care homes to close: Gables, Whittlesey (left) Red House, Ramsey (centre) and Cambridge, Chesterton (right). HC-One who runs them are severing links with Cambridgeshire

Care homes closed: Gables, Whittlesey (left) Red House, Ramsey (centre) and Cambridge, Chesterton (right). HC-One who ran them have closed all three, severing their links with Cambridgeshire

Labour says Cambridgeshire has suffered from the chronic underfunding of social care, with the Government cutting spending nationwide by 12% between 2020 and 2019.

And they claim there is a crisis in staffing locally which reflects the 165,000 unfilled jobs in adult care nationally, up 52% from 2022.

Councillor Mike Black, member of the county council’s adults and health committee said: “An increase in funding alone is not enough, as most care is now provided by private companies, who may well just use extra money to increase their profits.

Some private providers display unacceptable and exploitative behaviour in respect of the quality of their care, their treatment of staff and their commercial practices.”

“Recently a national company, HC-One Ltd, closed 3 care homes in Cambridgeshire, after receiving ‘Requires Improvement’ (RI) ratings from the Care Quality commission (CQC). ‘RI’ meaning ‘People were not always treated with dignity and respect’, and the CQC reporting: ‘One person told us they had requested a commode in their room.

“They stated, ‘I was told just to go to the toilet in my bed.’

“Another person said, ‘sometimes I have to wait so long for help to the toilet I worry I’m going to wet myself.’”

HC-One Ltd ownership in Cayman Islands

“HC-One Ltd is owned by a limited partnership registered in the Cayman Islands and backed by private equity funds. It ironically calls itself ‘the kind care company’”.

Labour’s Cllr Richard Howitt, who chairs the adults and health committee and who is also backing the resolution, said: “Cambridgeshire is facing a 50 per cent increase in over-85s in the next decade and if we want to keep elderly and disabled people locally both safe and healthy, there is no alternative to creating a whole new system.

“Conservatives have sat on the Dilnot proposals to reform social care for over 10 years. It will take Labour to act.”

Cllr Richard Howitt 

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Labour Cllr Alex Bulat, who is a member of the adults and health committee will also support the motion.

She said: “As a country, we are seen – and judged – by others by how we treat people who need our care and support. A National Care Service is long overdue.

I’m particularly concerned about how some of our international staff can face deportation if they don’t quickly find another job if the care company they work for closes.

“We need to ensure all workers’ rights in the care sector, including migrant workers, are respected.”

Cllr Alex Bulat “never thought or planned to be a local politician”.

Cllr Alex Bulat 

Labour says Cambridgeshire County Council is committed to providing the best care for residents possible and has recently had to pick up the pieces after several care company failures.

Its new policies introduced the real living wage for care workers in adult social care services and better training, accreditation, and career development opportunities.

National Care Service

The Fabian/Unison report proposes setting up a National Care Service, but most decisions would still be local. Cambridgeshire has a projected 20% shortfall between care provision and care need in the near future, and the plans would give a council that took the initiative the chance to meet need with public provision rather than private companies.

The report recommends that care workers should be properly rewarded for their efforts, with minimum pay rates being set nationally and becoming aligned with NHS grades, and workers treated with respect.

The report also recommends a “Citizen’s right to care” and puts forward proposals to empower unpaid carers.

FOOTNOTE

The Fabian/Unison trade union policy report can be found here:

https://fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Fabians-Support-Guaranteed-Report-WEB.pdf

 

 

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