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Unison calls for new nationalised service to replace Britain's ‘broken’ care system

UNISON has called for the creation of a nationalised NHS-style service to replace the country’s “broken” system of care post-coronavirus.

In a new strategy document released today, the union said that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fault lines in the social-care system, which requires substantial reform if its many structural, financial and operational weaknesses are to be tackled. 

Care After Covid: A Vision for Social Care sets out how the fragmented and crisis-riven sector could be transformed into a national care system. 

Some of the recommendations include staff undergoing a minimum level of training and for care workers to be added to the government’s shortage occupation list, which will form part of the points-based immigration system set to come into force in January 2021.

Unison warned that many care workers are currently on zero-hours contracts that have little job security and no paid holidays or sick pay. The union said that local authorities should only source care from providers “that pay their taxes, recognise unions, provide staff with standard work contracts and pay at least the real living wage.”

Unison said that a national scheme should be undertaken in Scotland, where the social-care sector was “woefully under-prepared” for the pandemic.

Assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Underpaid, undervalued and undermined staff are at breaking point. The Covid-19 crisis has further exposed just how desperately the care sector needs reform.

“The NHS must be its inspiration. Any reform must build on the few positives to come from the pandemic: that care staff are highly skilled people providing quality care despite the many challenges they face.

“The government must introduce fundamental reform to create a system fit for the future.”

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