CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the Government to set an urgent timetable for social care reform as the crisis in the care of older and vulnerable people worsens during coronavirus.

They are demanding action more quickly than suggested by NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens who called for plans to be set out within a year.

The Harrogate-based Independent Care Group (ICG) says the death toll in care and nursing homes from Covid-19 has shown the poor state the social care sector is in.

Sir Simon Stevens told the BBC that the coronavirus pandemic had shone a 'very harsh spotlight' on the resilience of the social care system.

ICG Chair, Mike Padgham, said: “We applaud Sir Simon’s call for a social care plan, but ask: why wait for a year?

"What we need is a plan set out and delivered within a year.

“The sector is in crisis now and has been for some time.

"We need to see a firm date and the Government held accountable for keeping to that date. ”

The ICG says almost £8bn has been cut from social care budgets since 2010, leaving the sector in crisis before coronavirus struck.

They say even before Covid-19, some 1.5m people were already living without the care they need.

Rocketing costs from buying PPE and extra staffing costs have hit care and nursing homes hard at a time when admissions are falling.

And Age UK has warned that as many as 20,000 care homes could go out of business without urgent extra support.

Mr Padgham said: “The pandemic has left many providers in financial crisis and we have already seen some fail and close.

“We need to see action and we need to see it now, before the loss of care providers means we can no longer meet demand.”

He says the Government should be held accountable and called for a similar pledge to that given by then prisons minister Rory Stewart in 2018.

He promised to resign in a year if he failed to reduce the levels of violence and drug use in prisons.

Mr Padgham said: “Boris Johnson, when he first stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister, promised to sort out social care once and for all. We are still waiting.

“We have been promised a Green Paper for years but it has been repeatedly put back and we are still waiting. Social care cannot wait any longer."

Mr Padgham added that there have been promises from various Governments since 1997 to 'sort out' social care yet still not enough has been done.

The ICG says there have been 13 social care ministers in the past 20 years and at least 13 documents in 17 years, including four independent reviews, four consultations and five white and green papers, all without any reform coming.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We recognise that a long-term solution for social care is needed.

"There are complex questions to address, which is why we plan to hold cross-party talks and we will bring forward a plan that puts social care on a sustainable footing to ensure the reforms will last long into the future.”