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Tory MP laments ‘outrageous’ treatment of social care workers

PoliticsHome

4 min read Partner content

The Government has some hard truths to face about the “outrageous” treatment of social care workers across the country, a Conservative MP declared at the Health and Care Forum debate at Conservative party conference.


Andrew Selous argued social care workers should be granted the same expenses for fuel costs as MPs, saying it was an “affront” that politicians receive more than other public sector workers.

The MP for South West Bedfordshire was speaking alongside his Conservative colleague Helen Whately at the Health and Care Forum debate at Conservative party conference, which ran in partnership with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Medical Protection Society and Tunstall. 

In his opening remarks, Mr Selous, who is a member of the Health Select Committee, cited the experiences of social care workers in his constituency as evidence that more needs to be done to offer support for the career path.

“I do think we have to face up to some tough issues [on social care],” he said. “I spent a day with social care providers in my constituency earlier this year.

“I was talking to some of them and I said ‘what would you need to attract people into the profession’. ‘At the moment,’ she said, ‘I would be too ashamed to go into school to try and get people to come into social care. It’s not a good place to be’.

“I said ‘what would it take’, she said, ‘salary, maybe £16,000-18,000 a year’. Paying for mileage: I personally find it an affront that as MPs, Helen and I get 45 pence a mile when we travel on constituency business.

“Now if you’re in the social care sector, if you get your mileage, you’re maybe lucky to get 25p-30p a mile. But come on, it’s all part of the public sector. Bring what we get down; let’s have one rate for the public sector.

“It is outrageous the way we treat these people. So, I think there are some hard truths we have to face.”

Mr Selous also suggested that the public would support spending more money on the social care sector.

“It has to be paid for, and I’m up for that conversation, and I think the public are probably up for it as well, because it’s going to be their care when they need it. 

Ms Whately, the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, backed Mr Selous’ calls for increased funding to the social care sector and a pay bump for those who work in the industry.

“To me, one of the things, and I’m glad we’re going to be doing a consultation on this, is the funding of social care,” she said.

“There’s been an increase in money coming through to social care, substantial increases, but still, that is one of the big, big problems in the system, having the funding for social care packages. Andrew was mentioning just now, the problem of the level of pay for providers of social care.

“It really is, for that kind of work, which is really demanding, and actually if you’re a single social care worker, it can be quite lonely at times. So, there’s a problem with the experience of the job but also the pay. So, there’s a lot of work that needs doing about the social care career and funding of social care.”

MENTAL HEALTH

Ms Whately, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health, argued that greater focus should be spent on training doctors in understanding mental health provision.

“Something that has come up in my work in mental health, is the relatively small amount of training that is dedicated to understanding mental health provision, how to avoid mental health conditions,” she said.

“For instance, a relatively small amount of junior doctors’ training is on mental health. But actually, a huge number of patients that doctors will see will have mental health conditions diagnosed…

“We need a significant mental health workforce. So, actually, mental health should be a substantial part of the medical curriculum. “

She added: “So, there’s a catch up job to invest in the workforce.”

Ms Whately argued that as provision for young people is improved, focus should also be on identifying causes of mental health among young people, such as the pressure of exams, social media and family breakdowns.

She said: “I think there’s a real opportunity not just to talk about how we address this problem, but actually really to understand why it’s having such an increase in mental health problems for kids.

“What we need to change about life as society and the way children’s lives… can help prevent and enable kids to have better mental health in the first place.”

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