Matt Hancock kicks off cross-party talks on social care crisis in letter to MPs
The Health Secretary has written to MPs announcing his plans for cross-party talks on a long-term solution for the social care crisis.
In a letter shared on Twitter, Matt Hancock called on his colleagues in both houses write to him with “your proposed solutions and your concerns”.
He also announced that he planned to begin “structured talks on reform options” for adult social care in May.
But Labour has dismissed the announcement, claiming a consensus can only be reached when the government presents its ideas for reform.
The cross-party talks were pledged by the Tories as part of their 2019 General Election campaign, and were among policies the party planned to implement in their first 100 days of government.
Mr Hancock wrote: “As we set out in our manifesto, we will seek to build a cross-party consensus so that the reforms we progress will last long into the future, nobody is forced to sell their home to pay for care, and everybody accessing care has safety and security.”
“Of course, any solution needs to consider the financial impact on taxpayers as a whole, the competing demands on taxpayer’s money from other public services, and how to fund reform on a sustainable basis.”
The announcement comes at a difficult time for the health and care sector, as the effects of the coronavirus outbreak are felt.
Plans have been put in place to speed up the re-registration of retired doctors and nurses to help tackle staff shortages as the disease spreads.
It comes as the National Audit Office (NAO) warned ministers that the NHS has 43,000 fewer nurses than it needs.
Responding to the announcement, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Social Care and Mental Health Barbara Keeley MP said: "The Prime Minister promised voters that he had a plan to fix the social care crisis but now all we see is an open-ended invitation for comments.
"As we have repeatedly said, cross-party talks can only be effective when the government comes forward with its proposals for reform. It is clear that it does not have a plan to fix the crisis in social care.
"Labour has offered to engage in meaningful cross-party talks and we would be happy to do so, but the process outlined by Matt Hancock is another consultation that provides no help to a system in crisis.
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