Edinburgh’s elderly care system labelled a ‘disastrous time bomb’

editorial image
Have your say

EDINBURGH’S social care crisis has been labelled a “disastrous time bomb” after it was revealed the number of people waiting for assessments is growing by 45 every week.

Councillor Melanie Main said the health and social care deficit could rise to as much as £104 million in the next five years if the current funding gap is not bridged, despite council leader Adam McVey’s assertion that services are “moving in the right direction”.

Cllr Main, who represents the Meadows and Morningside ward, said as many as 1,800 people were still waiting to be assessed for care provision, including 800 who have not yet received care packages following a series of damning reports on the state of social care in the capital.

A scathing Care Inspectorate investigation into the quality of care provision in May found five out of nine factors of care were rated “unsatisfactory” or “weak,” while the projected deficit for health and social care costs rose to £9m in September.

However Cllr McVey said he “didn’t accept” the care system was getting worse and stated the authority was “addressing the issues.”

Speaking during Thursday’s full council meeting, Cllr Main said: “If these trends continue by 2022, the annual funding gap on health and social care will be £104m every year, unless in five years time the cost of providing services that our Edinburgh residents need will be £104m less than will be available.”

“Can you imagine the consequences and the suffering that could mean? That gap cannot simply be addressed by cuts.

“Only if the Scottish Government funds these services properly can this disastrous time bomb be stopped.”

It comes after Bonnington-based care provider Bield announced its withdrawal from the city with the closure of 12 care homes due to “financial constraints,” despite posting a rise in income of 12.5 per cent over the last financial year.

Cllr Main continued: “There are a 1,044 people currently waiting for assessment but there are a further 800 people waiting for their further assessments and the need for our care homes continues to rise.”

“Yet, we’ve recently seen announcements for three care homes closing including Oaklands which will be making way for a new primary school.

“It’s no secret that social care services are underfunded. Barely a week goes by without that funding crisis being exposed in unmet care needs or older people delayed in hospital because there is no care package to come home to.”

However Cllr McVey argued: “If you look at the bedblocking figures for example, they are heading in the right direction.

“There are a number of triggers that are going in the right direction.

“We are still working and there’s still a lot to do and no one is going to pretend otherwise.

“We have a lot to do to address the structure and management of the service.

“The other element is how it’s funded and how much it is funded and that’s an element for negotiation.

“I don’t accept things are getting worse and we are addressing the issues and some stats are getting better.”

The Care Inspectorate report also found some patients were having to wait up to 100 days for support, while further failings have been found in a lack of staffing and care providers being paid less than £7 an hour.

Scottish Conservative group leader, cllr Iain Whyte, said: “The Care Inspectorate stated unequivocally that Edinburgh’s health and social care is in crisis, yet we have a council leader who refuses to admit how bad the situation really is.

“When questioned on it at full council Adam McVey was completely lost on the detail.”

Keith Robson, charity director of Age Scotland added: “These figures are worrying, but not surprising.

“Too many older people are facing an unacceptable wait for care assessments and for a care package to be put in place.

“This is extremely stressful for them and their families.

“As demand for care grows, it’s urgent that the Scottish Government works with other bodies to ensure that it is properly staffed and funded.”

Additional reporting by Kieran Murray and Kevan Christie