A cross-party group of more than 20 MPs, co-ordinated by Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Norman Lamb MP, has today launched a major campaign calling on the Government to establish an NHS and Care Convention to find a long-term solution to the crisis in health and social care funding.
The launch of the campaign is strengthened by an open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by 75 health and care organisations, urging her to pursue a cross-party process.
Members of the public can support the campaign by signing up to an online petition on the UK Government and Parliament Petitions website.
In a joint statement, MPs from the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and Labour note that there is “widespread recognition that the NHS and the social care system are under unsustainable strain and that the pressures on the system keep getting worse”.
They warn of “an increasing catalogue of failures of care” and “very serious” consequences for vulnerable people if the Government does not take immediate action, noting that more than a million elderly people currently are not receiving the social care and support that they need.
In recognition of these challenges, the MPs are encouraging the Prime Minister to establish a cross-party NHS and Care Convention to examine the immediate and long-term funding requirements of NHS and social care services, and make recommendations to guarantee a health and care system which is modern, effective and sustainable for the future.
The Convention would engage patients, the public, civic society, staff, trade unions, and providers of health and care services in a national conversation about how we guarantee a strong and effective NHS and care system.
Spearheaded by former Care Minister Norman Lamb, the statement is signed by the Conservative former health minister Dan Poulter MP and Labour former shadow care minister Liz Kendall MP. It is also supported by four Select Committee Chairs – Sarah Wollaston MP (Health Committee), Meg Hillier MP (Public Accounts Committee), Clive Betts MP (Communities and Local Government Committee) and Frank Field (Work and Pensions Committee) – along with former Health Secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn.
A separate letter from health and care organisations, which has been co-ordinated by Independent Age, is backed by charities, professional bodies and other organisations across the health including Independent Age, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Care England, The Patients’ Association, The Royal College of GPs, The Royal College of Nursing, and Marie Curie.
The open letter warns that unless the Prime Minister takes “a bolder approach millions of older, ill and disabled people and their carers will continue to be badly let down.” The letter recognises that a long-term solution cannot be owned by one party, and demands a cross-party process which is:
Inclusive: established by the government with meaningful cross-party engagement
Open: listening to the public and professionals who use and work in these services every day
Urgent: ensuring the cross-party process gets underway without delay.
At Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, Norman Lamb will urge the Prime Minister to agree to meet with him and other MPs to make the case for a cross-party approach.
Norman Lamb MP, former Minister for Care and Support, said: “The health and social care system in England is facing unprecedented challenges. Failing to find a solution to this crisis puts some of the most vulnerable people at risk – frail and elderly people in need of care services, disabled people who need support and people with long-term illnesses, particularly those suffering from mental ill health.
“Building a sustainable health and care system that can provide high-quality care can’t be realised without putting aside party political point-scoring.
“The public is sick and tired of the NHS and care system being treated like a political football. People have had enough, and are crying out for an honest discussion and bold solutions to these challenges.
“It speaks volumes that so many Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum are backing this initiative. At Prime Minister’s Questions, I will urge Theresa May to recognise the gravity of the situation we are facing, and to agree to meet with us to listen to our proposal.”
There is now a widespread recognition that the NHS and the social care system are under unsustainable strain, and that the pressures on the system are increasing and we will see failures of care. The consequences of this for many highly vulnerable people are very serious. We note that it is estimated that over a million older people in need of social care are not getting the care or support they need.
We welcome the Prime Minister’s focus on mental health, but also recognise that we will never achieve genuine equal treatment for those with mental ill health for so long as the whole system is under such financial pressure.
We are also concerned about the impact that these pressures are placing on staff in the NHS and the care system.
We recognise the importance of confronting this challenge and we accept that this transcends narrow party politics. A system designed to meet the needs of the population of this country in the 1940s is in need of renewal. It is not our intention to seek to blame any particular government or political party. Our aim is to find a sustainable solution that will have genuine cross-party support for the future.
In recognition of the scale of these challenges, we join together to launch a campaign to encourage the Government to establish a cross-party NHS and Care Convention to examine the future funding requirements of these cherished services and agree a new, long-term settlement to guarantee their sustainability for future generations and to ensure that this country has one of the best health and care systems in the world.
Now is the time for the Government to start a national conversation involving the public, civic society, healthcare professionals, carers and other experts.
We are pleased to note the call from over 70 health and care organisations including Medical Royal Colleges, charities and trade unions for the Prime Minister to initiate a cross party process.
There is a real urgency about this. The time to act is now, and we need the process completed within a clearly defined timescale.
Vulnerable people will be at risk if we do not confront this growing crisis, and we urge the Government to take immediate action in the interests of the country.
Norman Lamb MP
Dan Poulter MP
Liz Kendall MP
Sarah Wollaston MP
Meg Hillier MP
Clive Betts MP
Frank Field MP
Nick Clegg MP
Andrew Murrison MP
Caroline Flint MP
Chuka Umunna MP
Jeremy Lefroy MP
Lisa Nandy MP
Tom Brake MP
Heidi Allen MP
Sarah Olney MP
Peter Bone MP
Greg Mulholland MP
Johnny Mercer MP TBC
Ivan Lewis MP
Mark Williams MP
John Pugh MP
Alan Milburn, former Health Secretary
Stephen Dorrell, former Health Secretary