Prime Minister Johnson came to power promising a full revamp of the social care system. Liberal Democrats supported that vital goal. However we see little evidence of adequate planning to improve matters as we approach the post-Covid era. The hard fact is that the pandemic has demonstrated the inadequacy of our whole care system; in residential homes, in visiting care at home and also in supporting the 11 million voluntary carers, who do so much of the face-to-face work of domestic care with too little financial or other support.
Looking nationally, it is horrifying that Covid-19 deaths in care homes amount to around 40% of total coronavirus deaths across communities. There can be few local families that do not have direct involvement in such situations, which should clearly have been foreseen and avoided.
The tragedy has arisen due to the lack of resources and personnel to deliver an adequate service and the failure to take obvious precautions such as Covid-testing for patients moving from hospitals to care homes, or providing adequate PPE protection. For any future pandemic, we must be much better prepared, and make fewer major mistakes caused by incompetent planning and management.
Liberal Democrats want to correct these errors and to fund the care service and pay its professionals properly. We are calling for a cross-party health and social care Commission to establish a joined-up system of health and social care, with sustainable funding and contracts awarded on merit rather than Tory cronyism. We want to amalgamate NHS, Social Care and public health into an integrated National Health and Care Service.
As your local Liberal Democrat candidates in the upcoming Borough and County by-elections, we are committed to the principles of fairness and a sharing society. If elected we will work at district and county level to ensure that local services operate efficiently and in the best interests of our community. We will intervene and assist when residents have difficulty receiving a proper service from their Councils. We will be on the lookout for ways in which money intended for services can be increased and spent more efficiently.
We will continue to keep the community informed about local developments through the regular Focus newsletters which have been sent out by your Lib Dem Councillors in recent years.
Stephen Barnes (Cockermouth Town Councillor and Chair of West Cumbria Liberal Democrats)
Fiona Jayatilaka (County Council Candidate)