Social care providers have been told they need to increase the volume of their protests over the crisis in the sector, which is putting at risk the existence of providers who care for older and vulnerable adults.

At a recent event, the Independent Care Group – the representative body for independent care providers (private and voluntary) in York and North Yorkshire – heard about a ‘perfect storm' that is putting pressure on providers from several directions, and there were also calls for a referendum on social care and for providers to stand as MPs or councillors to raise the profile of the sector.

The Group's chair, Mike Padgham, said: “We currently have four factors creating a perfect storm: ever increasing demand for more and more complex care, greater and greater scrutiny of that care, tighter and tighter budgets to work in and rapidly rising costs – including the National Living Wage.

“We have a sector in crisis: more and more people going without care, care homes and domiciliary care agencies folding or on the brink, and greater and greater pressure on the NHS."

He said providers had to find ways to make a government preoccupied with Brexit and infrastructure projects like roads and railways wake up to the plight of health and social care.

“I say we should have a referendum on social care and ask the country if it wants to pay a little more so that our older citizens – and that will include all of us soon enough – can have some proper care in our later years?” Padgham added.

He questioned whether providers had to stand as councillors or MPs to get the message heard. 

Padgham also said the said the independent sector had some answers to the sector’s problems. “We need proper integration of social care and health services so we can move away from a hospital-based care system and towards an era when we have social care and health services working hand in hand to keep people happy and healthy, from the cradle to the grave,” he told delegates.

“We need to encourage, not discourage, providers to invest. Maybe through VAT changes or other incentives. And how about creating a system where independent providers remain independent but have local contracts - like the GP model?

“We need to recognise and use the independent sector more – the case has already been made that independent providers do things more cost-effectively than costly in-house provision; commissioners just need to acknowledge it and take advantage.

“It is time for action - no more reports, no more commissions, together we have to seize the day and fight for a better deal for social care. For everyone we care for, we have to say: "You deserve better" and go out there and fight harder than ever for it!”