August 28, 2019 News

Operation Yellowhammer predicts future challenges for social care

Article by Gabriella Emery – account executive at PLMR
August 2019  saw the leak of confidential Government papers known as ‘Operation Yellowhammer’, revealing the Government’s proposed response to the challenges arising from a so called no deal exit from the EU. The document included reference to the issues that will face the social care industry, particularly that, due to rises in inflation, “increasing staff and supply costs” will start to take its toll on smaller providers within three months and larger providers in six.
The consequences of a no-deal Brexit become more troubling when you consider the significant contribution EU workers make to the sector, comprising around 8% of the workforce. With anticipated increased emigration following Brexit, this will undoubtedly put a significant strain on social care services, already experiencing a shortage of staff, with one in 11 care worker roles unfilled nationally.
The leak follows bold claims from Boris Johnson that his Government will “fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan” to ensure every older person will be treated with “the dignity and care they deserve” on the steps of Downing Street in his first speech as Prime Minister in late July.
As to what Johnson believes his Cabinet can bring to the table that could reach across the benches is yet to be detailed, the PM has been accused of using empty rhetoric in a political point scoring game. With a White Paper rumoured to be in the works – an apparent upgrade from the long promised, long delayed Green Paper – due for release later this year, the pressure is on for his Cabinet to deliver coherent policy ideas that can be moulded into successful legislation.
This development brings promise after accusations from both the Right and Left over the reasons for the two year delay on proposals for policy reform, with Secretary for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock claiming that “cross party politics” had halted progress while his shadow counterpart, Barbara Keeley cast blame on a lack of consistent Conservative policy.
In terms of what a solution may entail, it would be expected that the new White Paper would meet the aims set out first by former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as a framework for thinking for the Green Paper, then reiterated by Matt Hancock, in October 2018. These include a sustainable model for funding, as well as a suitable and large enough workforce to meet the needs of those in care.
Hancock retained his role in the latest reshuffle (at great annoyance to him and his team, given how strongly he’d campaigned for Johnson having dropped out of the race himself) and is expected to continue working to implement the proposals he has started, while giving them a new flavour in line with his new boss.
Speaking on the NHS, Will Warr, senior health policy adviser to the PM suggested that the new government will be moving away from a “one size fits all” approach in a “highly centralised” model. This follows the sentiment from Johnson that a more personalised approach to social care will promote more successful and faster change, as those with the expertise locally will become a greater part of reform.
The issues set out for resolution will be a daunting task for the Government. Failures in the past to bring about successful legislation are numerous, including attempts made by former PM Theresa May, who was forced to abandon her manifesto proposal to reform social care, costing her the 2017 election.
Therefore, the revelations of ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ highlight the urgency, and perhaps present new challenges, for Government to act to protect the social care industry, so that it can weather the coming storm of Brexit. Much overdue fortifications will be needed to ensure those seeking and currently using a care service receive, in Johnson’s words, “the dignity and care they deserve”. All eyes will be on Johnson now to see if such a promise is delivered.

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