GMB, the union for care home staff, has supported a warning from Britain’s biggest providers of care homes for the elderly that cuts to public funding for residents are potentially damaging and homes will close if the situation does not improve.
The warning that the system is in crisis comes from Four Seasons, Bupa and HC-One – the three largest operators in the UK’s £24bn care home market – and has been made amid growing concerns about health and social care funding ahead of the general election in May.
According to data compiled by Age UK (the UK’s largest charity for older people) the Government cut its spending on care homes for the elderly by nearly a fifth between 2010 and 2014.
Chai Patel, chairman of HC-One, said the cuts “risked damaging our health and social care system irreparably.”
However, the Department of Health has said it had taken steps to protect social care services by giving an extra £1.1bn to councils.
“GMB support the warning from the three operators that the system is in crisis”, said Justin Bowden, GMB national officer for social care. The repeated warnings from GMB that Southern Cross would collapse were ignored again and again by government.
“Warnings that the entire care sector is in a slow motion collapse, albeit for different reasons to Southern Cross, are falling on the same deaf ears. If we are not prepared to learn the lessons of history, we are destined to repeat them.”
It is expected that demand for care home places will increase over the next 50 years, with the number of over-65s forecast to rise from 10.6m in 2010 to 16.1m in 2035.