More than 50,000 older people have died after formally applying for support since the government first announced it would publish a social care green paper, the charity Age UK claims.
It is 700 days since Chancellor Philip Hammond made the green paper commitment in the Spring Budget of 2017 and the charity estimates that 54,025 elderly people have died waiting a response on a social care package.
The figure is based on NHS Digital data which shows that 28,170 people died after making a formal request for social care between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. This equates to an average of 77 people a day. Age UK applied this average to the remainder of the 700 days to arrive at its figure.
Over the same period, 626,701 people have had their requests for social care refused by a council, Age UK has estimated using the same methodology.
In January Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he ”certainly intends” to publish the social care green paper before April.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK said five separate delays and a wait of 700 days called into question whether the government saw the green paper as a top priority.
“These tragic new figures demonstrate just how many older people are now suffering from the government’s failure to act decisively on social care. No one can say whether some of those who have died might have lived longer had they received care, but at the very least their final weeks and months might have been more comfortable and their families’ lives made easier.”
In the meantime an “inadequate” care system was struggling to cope, she said.
“Councils are often overwhelmed and therefore slow in processing applications and carrying out assessments, and even once all the paperwork has been completed there can be long delays because there are simply no paid carers available locally to provide help,” Ms Abrahams added.
But the Department of Health and Social Care responded by saying that funding available for adult social care will have increased by 9% in real terms between 2015-2020.
A spokesperson for DHSC said: “We are committed to ensuring everyone has access to the care and support they need and have provided local authorities with access to up to £3.6 billion more dedicated funding for adult social care this year and up to £3.9 billion for next year to help meet people’s needs.”
The spokesperson added: “We are determined to make social care sustainable for the future and will publish our proposals in a green paper shortly.”