On 17 August 2022 Age UK conducted a survey (“The Survey”) among over 65s in the UKs population to establish the priorities for the next Conservative prime minister. The Survey which had 14,021 responses among over 65s, established that the greatest problem identified by more than half of participants (57%) said help with the cost of living crisis was what they wanted to see the most. This was closely followed by action on the NHS and social care (25%). This is highly unusual as usually when Age UK carries out research with older people, it generally finds that strengthening the NHS and social care is always their top priority.
Consequences of The Survey
Therefore as a consequence of The Survey, Age UK has written to the two candidates for Leader of the Conservative Party and the current Prime Minister to inform them of the results. Age UK is urging the leaders of the Conservative Party to make a clear public statement about their commitment to restoring the triple lock, giving emergency support with energy bills, and to address the shortfalls in funding the NHS and social care. Energy bills for a typical household is projected to hit £4,266 next year. This equates to 45 per cent of the current state pension, which is a terrifying prospect for older people dependent on it to keep going.
NHS and Social Care Concern
The second priority identified in The Survey is the current state of the NHS and Social Care. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Care (“ADASS”), found that by the end of April this year more than half a million people were waiting for assessments, care, direct payments, or care reviews. This represents an increase of more than a third (37%) in just six months. However, ADASS have warned that delayed discharges are increasing further. This means that older people are stuck in hospital beds when they are medically fit to leave, but simply because there is no care available in the community for them, they are prevented from discharge. This ultimately means the chronic shortage of care is crippling patient flow in many hospitals up across the UK, causing wider issues.
What is being said?
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, shared her thoughts:
“Older people are deeply concerned about social care and the NHS. It’s an utterly miserable situation for everyone and it’s hard to see it improving unless and until the Government accepts that the root cause is the poverty pay in home care, and acts to give care workers a substantial pay rise. None of the care plans they have announced so far address this elephant in the social care room. Whoever emerges as our next Prime Minister, it is essential they understand the grave situation our acutely pressurised NHS and social care services are in, and that they take decisive action quickly to help turn things around.”