We must all speak up to deliver very best for elderly and vulnerable

Torbay Weekly

The prorogation of Parliament marks the end of a parliamentary session.

The end of prorogation itself and the beginning of a new Parliament are marked by the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech, in which Her Majesty states the intended business of the Government in the forthcoming parliamentary session.

It is an opportunity for the Government to refresh its agenda and outline its objectives.

Perhaps most importantly, it is a chance to revaluate the order in which national policy is ranked.

In other words, those issues of a more pressing need can be moved up the legislative timetable.

There are no shortages of ideas for which policies ought to be moved up and down that legislative agenda.

But there is almost complete consensus amongst MPs that we need to put social care at the top of the list.

MPs across all political parties are calling for social care to be viewed at the same level of importance as national infrastructure.

The last 14 months have only reinforced the need to deliver a new social care model that can withstand a pandemic, as well as an ageing population and a predicted population decline.

Of course, creating a new social care model is no easy feat.

Just as with the creation of the NHS in 1948, we must look to set up a system that is comprehensive, universal and builds on the knowledge of local caring groups and the existing structures of the NHS.

Elements of such a model are in existence but there is no set blueprint, no established model for which we can take reference.

However, with 650 MPs who represent every corner of the United Kingdom, the Government has an untapped resource that can help shape this new social care system.

It is no exaggeration that over the last 14 months, MPs have worked closely with their NHS trusts, their Clinical Commissioning Groups and their local volunteer caring groups.

Every one of us has had first-hand experience of what has worked well and what has not. It has spotlighted the inadequacies of the current system and emphasised the need to do more now rather than kick the can down the road.

No 10 must harness this insight and bring forward these views into the decision-making process.

No MP of any political persuasion would object to putting forward their two pennies’ worth of thoughts.

In the process of doing so, we might consider how we can do more for social care workers. Upgrading their status and pay would be a start.

But it would also offer us a chance to see how the public, private and charitable sectors have cooperated over the pandemic.

There are undoubtedly lessons to be learnt and examples that can guide us in the creation of this new model.

Successive governments have talked the talk on social care, but all have failed to deliver a meaningful change. Delay is no longer acceptable.

Whether cross-party or just governing party, the parameters of this national conversation must be set.

The deadlines for consultation must be announced and we must all speak up on behalf of our local caring models and ensure that we can deliver the very best for the elderly and vulnerable.

After all, ‘to govern is to choose.' That should mean taking the tough decisions where necessary.

Social care might easily be considered the problem that is an enigma, wrapped in a riddle inside Pandora’s box.

Regardless of its complexity we must engage, debate and deliver.

Future generations will be unforgiving if we fail to do so.