Carers UK is calling for the NHS to be given new legal responsibilities to identify unpaid carers and promote their health and wellbeing.

The NHS recently published a White Paper setting out the case for establishing a new legislative framework to facilitate greater collaboration within the NHS, and with social care services. The stated aim of these reforms is to improve the health and wellbeing of local people and support the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the essential role carers play in supporting the NHS and social care systems, Carers UK was very disappointed that there was no explicit mention of unpaid carers in the White Paper proposals for the Bill. Not only do carers deserve to be recognised for the important support they provide, but the aims for integration as outlined in the White Paper can only work if unpaid carers are visible, recognised, and counted as part of the NHS.

Greater integration of health and care services is something that carers want to see more of and would welcome; carers’ lives are often made much harder when services are not joined up and when data is not shared effectively and efficiently.

This new Bill is an opportunity to acknowledge the role of carers in supporting our health and social care systems and provide support for them to look after themselves and the person they care for.

Carers UK are calling for carers to be a clear part of the reforms that are being proposed by Government. Carers must be explicitly referenced in future plans.

Carers UK's main calls for the forthcoming Bill include:
• A duty on the NHS to have regard to carers and to promote their health and wellbeing.
• Clear and explicit references to carers when there are duties for new bodies to consult.
• A carer representative on key decision-making bodies.
• Clear inclusion of carers in the Care Quality Commission’s proposed new responsibilities around the Care Act 2014.

Carers UK are also concerned about the proposals which would allow for carers’ statutory right to a Carer’s Assessment to take place after the person they care for is discharged from hospital, which Carers UK believe erode carers rights as set out in the Care Act 2014. Therefore, Carers UK are concerned about the proposals relating to the removal of the requirement for assessment and discharge notices, without the right explicit safeguards in place for carers.

Carers UK hope the government will acknowledge the need for the NHS to identify and support unpaid carers in its new Bill, when published later this year.

Further information:
• For more information, please see Carers UK's detailed briefing on the White Paper.
• Please sign up here if you wish to support Carers UK's campaign.
• If you have any questions, please email [email protected]