Social care reform in England

Where are we now?

20 April 2010
On the 30 March 2010, the White Paper Building the National Care Service (NCS) was unveiled. Described as ‘an historic reform’, the White Paper is the Government’s blueprint for fundamental reform of the social care system in England to build a comprehensive NCS, free at the point of use. It follows the consultation Green Paper Shaping the Future of Care Together. In recent years, the issue of social care reform has gathered momentum and a clear consensus has emerged that reform is both necessary and urgent. Nursing has a critical relationship with social care, in delivering frontline care and providing healthcare for unmet social care needs, and social care reform is crucial for high quality care provision. However, in light of the current changing political, and challenging economic context the future of the White Paper is uncertain, and so too its vision. This briefing provides an overview of the case for reform of and recent developments in the social care system in England and, examines the key points of the White Paper.

It is likely that the political context of the White Paper's launch - in a run up to a general election - has constrained the Paper's detail. 'Historic' reform or any reform of the care system certainly still depends on continued political will and sustained pressure from stakeholders and the general public, as the White Paper itself acknowledges:

Introducing the National Care Service is the most fundamental and ambitious change to the welfare state since the creation of the National Health Service and it will require all efforts and our commitment to working in partnership to deliver the range and quality of care and support services that everyone in England has a right to expect.

 Owing to the critical relationship nursing has with with social care - in delivering frontline care and providing healthcare for unmet social care needs - the RCN has played a significant role in this debate so far. The RCN will continue to push for reform and ensure its members' views are heard. The current social care system is not fit for purpose on the staff, service users and the quality of care.

If the blueprint outlined in the White Paper is implemented by a future Government, the RCN will seek to have a voice on the Commission on funding and on the Leadership Group advising on its implementation. The RCN will call for more detail on and influence in any reablement policy.

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Page last updated - 07/09/2015