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Today, NHS England published its Long Term Plan, setting out the NHS’s goals and ambitions for the next decade.

Carers UK has worked closely with carers, with Government, and with NHS England in the development of this Long Term Plan. Throughout, our ambition has been to ensure that the NHS becomes the most carer-friendly health service in the world – for carers they support, and for staff working in the NHS, who are juggling work and care.

Carers are often family members, close friends or even neighbours of the person they care for. They play a vital role in helping to manage people’s health and other needs, day to day. Many carers are people with their own health challenges that are at risk of being overlooked, as well as people who need the right information and support to be able to care well and safely.

Last year more than 7,000 carers told us what they thought the NHS should be doing differently for them. They wanted to see improvement in the identification of carers in all NHS settings, as well as clear recognition and respect for what carers of all ages do. This included having access to training, learning and equipment, to help carers to care safely, as well as receiving proper breaks from their caring responsibilities.

Commenting on the NHS Long Term Plan, Helen Walker, Chief Executive at Carers UK, said:

“We’re pleased the NHS Long Term Plan recognises and highlights the importance of care carried out in the community, the majority of which is provided by the 5.5 million unpaid carers in England who look after family or friends who are older, disabled or seriously ill.

“We welcome the Plan’s ambition to improve and speed up the identification of unpaid carers and support them to address their own health needs through summary care records and carer passports. Measures to support carers’ access to back-up support in an emergency will also be appreciated by carers who are too often left to manage a health crisis alone. We’re also glad to see a focus on carers who are vulnerable and better support for young carers.

“It presents an opportunity to start turning the NHS into the most carer-friendly health service in the world.

“Whilst this Plan sets out the aims, the real test will now come in the implementation of the Long Term Plan in local areas across England. According to Carers UK’s analysis, over the next 10 years, 18 million people in England will take on an unpaid caring role. The NHS must not miss the chance to support them.

“We look forward to working closely with Government and NHS England on this to ensure robust delivery that achieves tangible change for carers, so they get the support and recognition they need to care without putting their own health and wellbeing at risk.

“Alongside this NHS plan we urgently need ambitious proposals for the funding and delivery of adult social care that have the huge contribution made by carers at their heart. The Social Care Green Paper must set out concrete measures to support carers to juggle work and care and ensure they receive the financial and practical support to care without putting their own lives on hold.“


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