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Patrick SP: Speech to UNISON Health Conference

Sir Grant Kingston

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Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Home Secretary, Sophie Patrick, today delivered a speech at the annual Health Conference of public service union, UNISON, which represents healthcare workers across the United Kingdom. Here she announced Labour’s new policy of the introduction of a National Care Service.


"Thank you comrades for having me here today. This isn’t my first time at this conference, as I used to proudly be a rep and activist for this very union, up until last year when I was elected to Parliament. It is not my first time speaking at this conference either, I’ve made a few firebrand speeches over the years at conferences, fighting for important issues and healthcare workers rights. 

Today I am here for a different reason. This July we will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of the National Health Service - one of the greatest British institutions and a great source of pride. The NHS was founded by Clem Attlee and his Labour Government, spearheaded by his Minister of Health, and a hero of mine, Nye Bevin. The Labour Government founded this health service on the principle and belief that medical care should be provided free at point-of-need to all Britons, regardless of wealth.

Sadly that is not always the case with all areas of healthcare within our country, namely social care. Throughout the United Kingdom, it is all too common seeing people being forced to spend their life savings and even having to sell their homes to afford care to support them in living their lives. This is heartbreaking. This should not be the case. We should not see people forced into poverty to pay for their care just to survive.

Figures from the Personal Social Services show that the median cost for a person living in care homes and residential care, to be £23,157 per year. This figure is just below the annual average income in the UK of £23,367, which makes it hard for families to support loved ones in their care, and not something those who need care would be earning themselves. Likewise it costs £8,767 per year to deliver vital care to children in need of social care. The NHS reports that the average cost per adult, aged 18 and over, supported in residential care, nursing care or intensively in their own home was £559 per person per week. 

These costs are astronomical. This is not only unaffordable, this is unacceptable.

Just over one million adults are supported at home with community services. 236,000 adults are supported by councils as permanent residents in care homes. 827,000 older people are now using community and residential services. In total, reports find that around 1.75million adults received one or more services through councils in 2006-2007. It is abundantly clear that the amount of people needing social care support is increasing, and we must do whatever we can to help them in the financial side of funding social care, so these people can live lives with the support they need, and not having to worry about how they will fund their care and survive.

Meanwhile the same report states that councils recovered nearly £2.1billion in fees and charges from people using these care services. It is beyond me how Councils are recuperating money, while people spend hand over fist to survive?
I ask, how can we expect the average person to afford this type of care? How can we price people out of vital care? How can we do this to people, the elderly - even children? The answer is we cannot. We must make a change!

That is why I am proud to announce today, as a former UNISON rep and healthcare worker, that Labour will pledge to introduce a National Care Service, that will provide free social care for those who need it most, and will cover the costs of their care.

The NCS will be a fully funded program, and we will be releasing the full details in a policy paper accompanying the Shadow Budget in the coming days.

It is time that we follow in the footsteps and spirit of Nye Bevin and the purpose of the NHS in providing medical care, free at the point-of-need. It is time to provide free social care to those in need.

Thank you!"



Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

Shadow Home Secretary


Former Roles:

Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare (December 2007-January 2008)




Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare: Dianne Abbot MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Infrastructure, and the Environment: Barry Gardiner MP

Minister for Northern Ireland: David Anderson MP

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