The work will aim to set up a national care service in England free at the point of use, just as the government in 1945 introduced the NHS, the shadow health secretary has said, launching a review of its operation.
In an interview with the Guardian, Wes Streeting said he had asked the Fabian Society to consider how the service would be funded and structured, with a view to introducing it over the course of several parliaments.
He said the immediate priority would be to provide better pay, training and full work rights for caregivers, as well as higher national standards. The ‘long-term vision’ would be a national service that lives up to Aneurin Bevan’s vision for the NHS.
“I think the key to a national care service is that it’s a journey, not an event. We wouldn’t be able to deliver that overnight or even in one parliament,” Streeting said. “It’s about how we lay the foundations of it in the first term of a Labor government and then look to build on it in a second or third term.”
He expressed concerns about many care homes owned by private equity groups, with one in seven not meeting standards and in need of improvements. The review will examine whether privately owned care homes could be integrated into public ownership.
“If private providers want to continue to play a role in providing social care, they must provide good quality care and with a public service ethic,” he said.
Streeting said he was “really open-minded” about who should be in charge of the national public care service, whether it’s the NHS, local councils or another body.
Former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn promised a national care service in the 2019 manifesto, but his successor Keir Starmer said he was wiping the slate clean and rewriting the manifesto from scratch.
Streeting said a national care service was “unfinished business” for Labour, which released a white paper on the idea as one of its last acts in government.
“As Keir Starmer explained this week, Labor is starting from scratch and writing a manifesto that looks to the future without being shackled by the past. We are going to work towards a national care service. finds labor and that’s my pledge as shadow health secretary and one point I want to make is that unless we’re faced with the social care crisis the backlog in the NHS will be more difficult to resolve,” he said.
In its review of social care, the Fabian Society will look at the structure of the care home market and how the next Labor government will ensure good standards of care for all and professional standards for carers across the sector.
When it comes to pay for social workers, Streeting said there should be a significant increase. “If you look at how things have changed under the Tories, it was once true that social workers were paid 30p more per hour than retail workers, but now they are paid 20p less than retail workers. retail and now we are losing workers to companies like Amazon. , which, let’s be honest, are not renowned for their salary, terms and conditions.
Last month the Scottish Government presented plans for a National Care Service to overhaul adult care with a focus on home care. This would not nationalize the sector but would make care business bosses directly accountable to Scottish ministers in a more centralized system.
Scottish Labor said it was not a genuine national care service but a ‘power grab’ which aims to take authority away from local councils, while Unite called it ‘ incomprehensible, incoherent and appalling bill”.