Sir Ed Davey on reforms for carers: ‘If you care about the NHS, you must care about care’

NHS staff shortages ‘an emergency situation’ says Dr Hilary

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Davey said the topic of family carers, who were put under major strain during the pandemic, is not considered a health issue, but should be.

Over the past year, Davey has been campaigning to raise awareness, and improve the lives of family carers; from this campaign Davey suggests a number of changes should be introduced.

The first is carers breaks: “Breaks for carers because some people don’t get a single break at all, because the local authority hasn’t got money or they’ve slipped through the net in some way.

“It doesn’t cost very much. If the carer breaks down and is unable to care, the cost to the government is huge.”

Sir Ed also suggested carers need more financial support, and that current support is insufficient: “The carers allowance is the benefit that’s the lowest value benefit in our whole system.

“I think that’s a huge issue. The other issue is trying to help people juggle work and caring.

“So, a lot of people want to go out to work, want to supplement their income, want to give themselves a break, give themselves some mental headspace and they can do that and so the caring relationship, but only if they’re given some flexibility by their employer.”

By shining a light on this issue, the hope is that reforms can be delivered and brought about that will help a group of health workers who, like the rest of the health network, have been under immense strain.

Carers and family carers are just one part of the UK’s health ecosystem.

With rules on mandatory vaccination for NHS staff on the horizon, a policy that could result in 70,000 personnel leaving the already short-staffed service, asked what the Liberal Democrat policy would be.

Sir Ed said that the Liberal Democrat policy would be for staff to be tested everyday rather than introducing vaccine mandates.

On NHS staff, contributing to staffing shortages are staff leaving the service and few taking their place.

On how to convince staff to stay in the NHS, Sir Ed said: “First of all, you’ve got to treat them fairly. And I don’t think the government has, certainly people I speak just don’t feel like they’re being treated fairly.

“They need to try to incentivise people who’ve left to come back by showing that they actually care and that they will be properly looked after.

“I think there should be more visas for healthcare workers. We know the NHS has been hugely benefited from staff from overseas.”

Sir Ed added: “If the Prime Minister resigned it would improve retention and recruitment in the health service, because I think he’s lost the trust of the NHS workers.”

With regards to how to make best use and to relieve some of the pressure from NHS hospitals and GPs, Sir Ed suggested that community pharmacies should be greater utilised due to the highly qualified nature of the staff who work there.

“I would want to look at increasing the prescribing rights of pharmacists. I would want to make sure we really support our community pharmacists and don’t let them be driven out of business by big supermarkets and foreign online pharmaceutical companies.

“We’re missing a massive opportunity to help people get health care more quickly.”

Sir Ed plans to continue campaigning for carers amidst a resurgence for the Liberal Democrat resurgence after by-election victories last year.

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