Paul Burstow is serious about supporting carers

It was about primary 4 when I got the letter. I’m sure it even had her scent on it. It was smuggled to me in between

Paul Burstow, Carers Minister

practicing our times tables but I don’t think I could have added 2 plus 2 after I received it. What a feeling!

It obviously wasn’t the greatest love letter in history, but then again the Department of Health are not known for their letters of love. But I have recently fallen in love with one letter from them.

It was sent to each Strategic Health Authority (SHA) which monitor the performance of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). It asks SHAs to confirm with the Government by 2nd September that each PCT has published local plans regarding services to support carers. Missing this date would be understood only in exceptional circumstances.

Furthermore, SHAs must make sure that PCTs (apologies for the acronyms!) have taken into account the Government’s updated Carers’ Strategy which provided an additional £400m for carers in PCT budgets. Sometimes, you wonder what takes Government so long to act but in this case the Health Minister Paul Burstow MP must be applauded for taking immediate action.

On 12th July Rob Wilson MP asked him about his local PCT not engaging with his local Carers’ Centre to develop plans for carers as they were meant to. On 14th July, we published our report which showed that only 9% of PCTs had so far published updated plans and 37% were not planning to.

Paul Burstow and civil servants must have immediately discussed what they could do to improve the situation and drafted the letter that was sent out 27th July. Supporting carers is an issue that Paul Burstow is serious about and this episode shows his determination to improve support for carers.

We have already heard of instances where PCTs are responding and are now engaging with carers’ organisations to develop plans and budgets. I’m glad, because the clock is counting.

To make sure the PCT acts in your area, we’ve set out 5 easy steps to persuade your PCT. Carers are getting breaks in Richmond, Sunderland, Surrey and other places – let’s make sure carers all over the country get them.

Take action


August 3, 2011 Posted by | breaks for carers, Carers Strategy, Health, Social Care | , , | 12 Comments

Sunderland pledges to give carers a break

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care launched our campaign to Give Carers a Break in May and since then many Carers’ Centres and Crossroads Care schemes have been working hard with their local Primary Care Trust (PCT) to increase investment in support for carers. Primary Care Trusts and your local NHS, have been given £400m by Government to improve support for young and adult carers, but the money is not ring-fenced so can be spent on anything at all. We fear that many PCTs will choose to spend the money in areas other than supporting carers.

However, there are some PCTs who are showing that even in such tight financial times, increasing support should be a priority.

After working closely with Sunderland Carers, Sunderland Primary Care Trust are investing £630,000 this year for extra services to give carers the support they need and deserve.  Penny Davison of Sunderland PCT explained that supporting carers was key to the care of people with disabilities and long-term illness when she said:

“We value and recognise the huge contribution carers make to caring for friends or relatives who may be disabled or seriously ill. We have seen the benefits that providing short breaks to carers can have on their health and wellbeing and are keen to ensure that carers can access a range of quality services that will support them in their caring role.”

Ailsa Martin, Chief Executive of Sunderland Carers’ Centre, has been instrumental in working with the PCT to put this plan together and believes more carers will get support earlier helping them to maintain their own wellbeing.

“We want to reach carers at any early stage, preventing unnecessary. This extra investment enables us to provide new services, including group breaks for isolated carers who may be didn’t take breaks previously because they had no one to go with.”

The NHS is facing tough times but Sunderland PCT has shown carers should be a priority. Using the money allocated to them by Government, they will help carers maintain their own health and that of the people they are caring for. The whole NHS needs to follow the lead of Sunderland PCT and Ailsa is right when she advises that “ Sunderland PCT and NHS South of Tyne and Wear should be applauded for their commitment to carers.”

Do leave comments about what is happening in your area, and whether there is something to applaud or something to be angry about. You can get involved in our Give Carers a Break campaign by sending letters to your MP or councillor asking them to make sure your PCT follows Sunderland’s lead.

Take care, and action (!)


July 1, 2011 Posted by | breaks for carers | , | 4 Comments

Prime Minister celebrates Carers Week

Note: The following post is from Beryl Cross, Head of Operations at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

The Prime Minister hosted a reception for about 150 carers at 10 Downing Street yesterday to celebrate Carers’ Week. I Number 10was there with carers and staff from our Carers’ Centres. You had to be very brave to fight through the melee to get to the Prime Minister, or in Louise’s case perhaps have someone like me to push you in the back to make you do so.

Louise is a young carers who is supported by our Bromley Carers’ Centre, and she gave David Cameron a letter she had written explaining her experience and ideas for supporting young carers.  Moira Fraser, our Director of Policy, was also straight in there, highlighting to David Cameron the need for government to take action on getting NHS money for carers breaks delivered to carers and raising our Give Carers a Break campaign. And it seemed to work as in his speech later in the evening the Prime Minister said the government should “follow through” on getting Primary Care Trusts to use that breaks money for carers.

He also made reference to his own experience as a carer for his son and he gave “a huge thank you” to the carers there for what they do. There were many other Ministers there including Nick Clegg MP, Paul Burstow MP (Minister for Care Services) and Steve Webb MP (Minister for Pensions), plus Tony Baldry MP co-chair the Parliamentary Group on Carers and other MPs who have supported carers in Parliament. They also recognised the massive contribution made by carers.

Jack Dromey MP also asked the Prime Minister about carers during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday to which the PM responded:

“Everyone in the House should welcome the fact that it is carers week. I will be having a reception in No. 10 tonight to celebrate carers week with many people who take part and who are carers. This Government are putting in £400 million to give carers more breaks and £800 million specifically to make sure that those looking after disabled children get regular breaks.”



June 16, 2011 Posted by | Carers Week 2009, Relationships, Social Care, Young carers | , , , , | 5 Comments

Carers do meet the social care needs

You may have seen media reports last week about 800,000 people not getting help with social care. This was based on an Age UK report that estimated there were 2 million older people in England with care related needs and 800,000 of these were not getting formal support from public or private agencies.

The widespread media reports implied that there were 800,000 people whose needs were not being met and levels of ‘unmet’ need is a cause for concern amongst politicians and decision makers. Of course, one of the biggest worries has been that if people are not being supported by councils or other agencies, then how do you know how many of them are there? This is a problem facing the Dilnot Commission which is considering the future funding of social care in England.

The answer of course lies with carers. Because we survey who is providing care, then you can work out how many people have care and support needs.

Going from the census 2001 and last year’s household survey, there are approximately 4.8m people providing care in England. The household survey found 37% were sole carers and 63% were sharing it with another person. This would equal approximately 3.2m people with care and support needs being supported by carers in England alone. Plus, there would be adults being cared for by young carers that were underestimated in the census and not covered by the household survey.

It is not that needs are going unmet, they are being met, just not by people who are paid to do so. The vast majority of need is being met by carers. They are the ones who are there when social services or private care agencies are not.

When we launched our Give Carers a Break campaign, Peter Hay, President of Association of Directors of Adult Social Services addressed the politicians and carers involved. He said that because it is carers who are the first ones providing care and we rely on them so much, then the NHS’s £400m for carers has to be spent on carers and prioritised first ahead of other needs.

Take care


PS: Carers need continued support. Don’t forget to tune-in to BBC Lifeline’s appeal for carers on BBC One on June 19th at 4:45 pm (if you are in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and 5:15 (if in Scotland). Please do spread the word.

June 6, 2011 Posted by | breaks for carers, Budget, Carers Strategy, Social Care | , , , , | 1 Comment