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The Government has today published its legislative proposals for a new Health and Care Bill that aims to improve the delivery of public health and social care.

It aims to support local health and care systems to deliver care in a way that is less legally bureaucratic and more joined up. The Government has promised to bring forward proposals for reform of adult social care later this year.

There is currently no explicit mention of unpaid carers in the white paper proposals for the Bill, although it talks about people’s services and their families.  

Responding, Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK said:

“Unpaid carers are the pillars of our health and care systems and without their support during the pandemic these systems would have collapsed. Yet there is no mention of their roles whatsoever in the Government’s white paper. Carers deserve to be recognised for the important support they provide. We want to see the NHS have new legal responsibilities which would help to identify unpaid carers and promote their health and wellbeing.

“Too often carers’ health deteriorates because of their caring responsibilities. This new Bill is a golden opportunity to acknowledge the role of carers in supporting our health and social care systems and provide support for them to look after themselves and the person they care for.  We hope the Government will acknowledge the need for the NHS to identify and support unpaid carers in its new Bill.

“The primary legislation for discharge to assess must ensure that, before someone is discharged from hospital, their carer is willing and able to care for that person. Under the Care Act 2014, this is an important right along with unpaid carers’ right to a Carer’s Assessment and this needs to be reflected in any future legislation.  

“Greater integration is something that carers want to see more of. Carers’ lives are made so much harder when services are not joined up and when data is not shared. However, the aims for integration can only work if unpaid carers are visible and counted as part of the NHS and this needs to be a part of the reforms.

“The Government’s plans for social care reform cannot come soon enough and we very much hope they are ambitious, sustainable, and have the practical and financial needs of England’s 5.4 million unpaid carers at its heart.”

Carers UK is compiling a briefing on the white paper which will be available on the policy pages of our website soon.

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