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BASW response to the NHS being awarded the George Cross

The NHS deserves national recognition, but so does the social care workforce, says CEO Dr Ruth Allen

It is absolutely right that the NHS receives recognition for the incredible work during the pandemic. This has come today in the form of the George Cross medal.

Whatever your views on such Queen’s honours, this is notable and only the second time an organisation has received this highest award.

However, there will be many equally dedicated and courageous workers in social care – who often work alongside their colleagues in health – that will be thinking where is our recognition?

Social care staff including carers, care home workers, domiciliary care workers, social workers, approved mental health practitioners and scores of other professionals have been working hard on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19 and taken great risks – tragically in many cases – to keep the population safe and supported.

With no mention of social care from Government today, the news of this award provides further evidence that social care and social work is not regarded – indeed respected one might say – in the same way as the health service is.

Social care and social work are often more hidden and less well supported nationally in policy, funding and public regard than some other essential services.

BASW has highlighted this disparity many times over the past year, including when social care and social services were underprovided crucial PPE equipment at the start of the pandemic last year. 

We need the social care and social work workforce to be empowered and resourced to work effectively as colleagues and partners with our doctors and nurses, who we hear much more about from Government and in mainstream media.

We need government and politicians to get behind this and speak out.

The NHS deserves praise and honours, however let us not be detracted from what health and social care workers really need for now and the future.

Social care and social workers – alongside the health service – are fundamental to the UK’s recovery from this pandemic and we need to see this reflected in ongoing pandemic planning, as well as the upcoming Autumn statement.

If we are to build back better then we need to start with the most vulnerable adults, children and families and ensure we give health and social care the resources and funding to be able to help them, as well as the support they need so they don’t themselves face burnout.