Last weekend, Labour made the exciting announcement that if it were to win the next General Election, it would aim to create a National Care Service in England, with just as much ambition as the 1945 government that brought in the NHS.
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, I was naturally very pleased with this announcement. For far too long, social care has been allowed to flounder, leading to one in seven care homes no longer meeting standards and requiring improvement. This, coupled with catastrophic costs, means that people are no longer being able to access care when they need it.
A National Care Service would tackle that head-on. It would be a publicly owned, publicly funded and free at the point of use. I’m delighted that Labour have publicly committed to making this a reality and are working with the Fabian Society to flesh out the details.
Make no mistake, this is an incredibly ambitious commitment, and one that will most likely take more than one term in government to realise. The immediate priority of a Labour Government would be to provide better pay, training and rights for carers, whilst urgently improving care standards. But this would come alongside a longer-term vision to create a national care service on a par with Nye Bevan’s vision for the NHS.
This announcement is significant not only nationally, but also locally. Here in Tameside, we have the Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Trust, which means that Health and Adult Social Care is already heavily integrated. Through collaboration with local health and care partners, the Trust aims to give care within hospitals and the local community. This means better care for patients, and a more efficient service in the process. I’m proud to see Tameside leading the way on integrated care and am excited about what more they can achieve over the months and years ahead.
A National Care Service would perfectly align with the principles of integrated care here in Tameside. It would give communities the tools they need to improve the lives of local residents and has the potential to be truly transformative for the health of this nation.
In short, it’s a policy that demonstrates what an effective Labour Government would do. In 1945, Labour transformed our healthcare system, and improved the lives of millions. We stand ready and waiting to do the same again.