Speaking out against the “political football” that has taken over the debate on long-term care, SAGA director-general Dr. Ros Altmann said the government must take action on the recommendations of the Dilnot report when it is published next week.
“Surely we must all wake up to the real risks that face our ageing society”, said Dr. Altmann.
The Dilnot report is due to be published on July 4 after recent news of elderly people being denied basic care facilities, being forced to sell everything to pay for care, treated without dignity or left worrying about the security of their care homes broke out.
“Latest figures today show that spending on social care has been falling – even while the numbers in need of care have been rising”, said the director-general of the charity.
“There are huge gaps in our social care budget and even the latest extra £2bn by 2015 that the government has announced will be given local authorities to fund care has not been ringfenced”, she said.
“So the money is not getting through to where it is needed and local authorities are cutting care spending on the elderly by eight per cent according to new research from AgeUK”, she added.
Charging the government of living in denial, Dr. Altmann said the government needs to act.
“Unless Andrew Dilnot’s recommendations are taken seriously, acted upon, and not dismissed by politicians as being too hot to handle, then we face a care catastrophe that will make the pensions crisis look like a minor problem by comparison”, she warned.
“In 1901 you could barely fill a football ground with the population of over-85s – there were just 61,000. In 2011 there are 1.5m and in 20 years there will be 2.5m”, she said.
“The issue of care is huge, escalating, and relentless. It must not be kicked into the long grass because ministers consider it to be too hot a political potato”, she complained.
“Failing to fund care will have dire ramifications for the health service, and the economy. Keeping an older person in a hospital bed costs £3,000 a week, but caring for somebody outside hospital is under £1,000 a week”, she added.