Social care in England

We outline our calls to action for social care in England, including the need for increased funding, to make social care free for all and investment in the workforce.

Location: England
Audience: All doctors
Last reviewed: 10 September 2020
NHS Structure Article Illustration

Increased pressure on the social care system is resulting in rising levels of unmet need.

It's increasingly impacting the NHS and causing strain on critical services, where there is little to no capacity. A situation that has been highlighted and made worse by Covid-19.

As a result, the BMA is calling for action from the Government to address these issues and reform the social care sector. Our key asks are outlined below.


1. Boost social care funding to improve access to and quality of care

  • An extra £12.2 billion is needed in England in 2023/24 to enable the sector to meet rising demand, whilst also improving services and workforce conditions.
  • Additional funding will be needed on top of this to ensure better access to care by providing more services free at the point of need.


2. Widen access to care services by making social care free at the point of need

  • Very few people have access to free social care in England.
  • More social care services, such as personal care, should be free to increase the availability of and access to care.
  • An additional £5 billion would be needed in England, for example, to implement free personal care in 2023/24.


3. Invest in the social care workforce and value those who work in social care

  • There are currently around 122,000 vacancies in social care in England alone.
  • Social care staff should be provided with opportunities for salary and career progression.
  • Social care employment terms and conditions should mirror those of the NHS.


4. Focus on prevention and support people to stay independent for longer

  • Priority should be given to support people to stay independent for longer in their own homes.
  • Integration of local NHS, social care and community services can help prevent people from needing to go into a care home, as well as preventing avoidable need for NHS care.
  • More funding should be set aside to jointly commission health and social care, so that professionals can work together more effectively, and resources can be used more efficiently.
  • Greater investment is also needed in domiciliary care services, home care teams and community services, supporting them to work with both NHS bodies and local public health teams.