YVONNE FOVARGUE MP: Fixing our social care system is essential

Yvonne Fovargue is the Labour MP for Makerfield...

Friday, 21st May 2021, 2:35 pm
Yvonne Fovargue MP

For too long, social care has lacked the priority, attention and funding it deserves and care workers have been undervalued and underpaid.

I agree with the many constituents that contact me that long-term reform is essential.

Despite the best efforts of care workers, NHS staff and unpaid carers - who have gone the extra mile to care for older and vulnerable people - the pandemic has exposed the underlying problems with our social care system.

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Following a decade of cuts to local government, £8 billion has been lost from adult social care budgets and too many people have been left to cope without the support they need.

Councils now face billions of pounds in extra costs due to the pandemic, yet Ministers have repeatedly delayed setting out a plan to fix social care.

The Government first promised to publish its plans to reform social care over four years ago.

Despite repeated promises, Ministers have still not brought forward any legislation, new funding, details or timescales for reform.

The recent Queen’s Speech, setting out the Government’s legislative agenda for the year ahead, was absent of any detailed plans for reform.

Leading charities, including Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and Carers UK have all raised concerns about the lack of clear proposals for reform. The Government must avoid further delays.

Fixing our social care system and protecting people from high care costs are essential. Indeed, I believe tackling the crisis in social care should be treated as an economic priority - in the same way as fixing infrastructure such as roads and railways.

As part of a wider ambition to make Britain the best country in which to grow old, I support calls for a 10 year plan of investment and reform; a plan to empower care users and their families to live the life they choose by expanding the options between care at home and a care home; a plan to fully join up health and social care services; and a plan that sets out a new deal for frontline care workers to transform pay, training and working conditions and support unpaid carers.

Assisted Dying is a complex and emotive issue and I know there are strongly held ethical and moral views on both sides of the debate.

My personal belief is that everyone has the right to choose how they end their life. Providing the right safeguards are in place,

I would support a change in the law to enable terminally ill adults to receive, at their request, medically supervised assistance to end their own lives.

However, I would like to emphasise that assisted dying should not be an alternative to high-quality palliative and end of life care.

People deserve dignity in dying, and each person nearing the end of their life should feel reassured and safe in the knowledge they will receive the very best care and be supported to die as peacefully and as painlessly as possible.

Successive governments have taken the view that Parliament should decide on this issue. I agree with this approach.

However, I also believe that a call for further evidence or an independent inquiry into the existing law would assist the broader debate.

As part of the discussion on this matter, we must ensure that there will always be thorough and transparent consultation with the public and faith groups, and physicians and wider healthcare professionals must always be fully involved.

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