Building the National Care Service

The government published the Building the National Care Service white paper which set out the principles by which a National Care Service would be created. The National Care Service is ultimately envisioned to be akin to the National Health Service – a universal service that is free at point of use.

The white paper puts forward 6 founding principles for the universal care system, the National Care Service should:

• Be universal: It should support all those who need it, when they need it.
• Be free at point of use: The provision of quality care shouldn’t be based on wealth, but should be based on need.
• Work in partnership: It needs to involve all those groups – public, private and NGOs – providing individuals with care services.
• Offer choice and control: People should be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
• Supporting carers, families and community life: The system needs to recognise and support the contributions made by families carers and communities.
• Be accessible: It should be easy to access and understand, helping people make the choices that are right for them.

This is obviously an ambitious project, and in recognition of this fact Labour have set out three stages in which a truly universal National Care Service can be created. The first phase is the Personal Care at Home Bill that the Government is currently taking through Parliament, this will provide 400,000 people with free care. Secondly, by 2014 Labour would aim to provide free care for anyone who spends more than 2 years in residential care. Finally, the introduction of a fully-fledged National Care Service, though this would have to be introduced after the next Parliament.

The proposals for a universally available system of care would require everyone to make a fair contribution, however a range of deferred payment options could be offered. Different payment methods will suit different people, and for this reason we believe that options should be offered that fit with people’s circumstances.

Age Concern are currently running a consultation on the proposals offered by Labour, you can let them know what you think on their website or by emailing them at care {at} ace.org(.)uk.