Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP. Photo credit: Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP at DPA 2011 via photopin (license)

Fixing England’s broken social care system “will take time” and require a national debate over how to fund vital services into the future, Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted.

Speaking to a packed audience at the British Association of Social Workers conference, Mr Hunt outlines his key objectives to reforming adult social care, while admitting the “unprecedented pressure” felt by social care services in England.

“Too many people experience care that is not of the quality we would all want for our own mum or dad”, he said.

“We need a relentless and unswerving focus on providing the highest standards of care – whatever a person’s age or condition.

“This means a commitment to tackle poor care with minimum standards enforced throughout the system, so that those using social care services are always kept safe and treated with the highest standards of dignity and compassion.

“Resolving this will take time. But that must not be an excuse to put off necessary reforms.

“Nor must it delay the debate we need to have with the public about where the funding for social care in the future should come from – so the Green Paper will jump-start this vital debate.”

Commenting on Mr Hunt’s remarks, Carers UK said “unpaid carers are too often pushed to breaking point by the lack of support” and called for “an urgent injection of funding” to help the struggling care system.

Emily Holzhausen OBE, Carers UK’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “The majority of care is provided, not by social care services or the NHS, but by families and friends caring unpaid.

“These unpaid carers are too often pushed to breaking point by the lack of support and the inability of over-stretched health and care services to back them up, so they can live their own lives alongside supporting a loved one.

“Our care system is in crisis now and needs an urgent injection of funding as well as the longer term reform proposals of a Green Paper.

“The recognition in this speech of the need for greater support for carers as one of the key principles behind the new reforms is welcome.

“As well as taking a broad approach to improving support for carers, the Government must also recognise the competing demand of working longer and seriously consider whether the current levels of unpaid care given by families are sustainable in the future.”