Social care

patient in the waiting room

Social care plays a vital role in the lives of millions of older and disabled people in England, and helps people to get the care and support they need and, where possible, lead independent lives.

The social care sector relies on a diverse range of providers as care is delivered by everyone from the NHS and local government to charities and private care firms. There are also, crucially, around 5.4 million relatives and friends who provide unpaid care to people in need.

The social care sector and NHS are increasingly interdependent. People who receive good quality social care are less likely to fall ill and require the care and treatment provided by the NHS. A well-funded and good quality social care sector is fundamental to a well-performing NHS. 

Despite its importance to both people’s lives and the performance of the NHS, social care has been in decline over recent decades. More than 1.4 million people are not able to access the care and support they need. And the situation is likely to deteriorate further, with the number of people with dementia in the UK set to rise to more than 1 million by 2025. Already, up to 58 per cent of people over 60 are living with at least one long-term condition, such as diabetes, arthritis or hypertension, and this is set to rise. 

Funding for social care has fallen by 11 per cent in recent years.  All of this has led many experts to conclude that the social care sector is in crisis. There is a strong consensus that a sustainable social care system needs to be created, backed by a long term funding settlement. 

What we are doing

The NHS Confederation has convened a coalition of health organisations in a major campaign – Health for Care – to secure reform and a long-term funding settlement for social care. Our aim is to help deliver the sustainable social care system that is urgently required. 

The 15 health organisations represent the breadth of the NHS, speaking on behalf of everyone from NHS staff and patients, to NHS trust leaders and health charities.

The campaign was launched on 4 March 2019 ahead of the expected publication of the Government’s Green Paper on adult social care, which has been promised since spring 2017. 

Since the launch of Health for Care, the campaign’s coalition members have written to the Prime Minister outlining key recommendations for reforming the social care system. The campaign has also acquired tens of thousands of signatures from members of the public for its petition entitled: Give social care the funding it needs.


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