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The current fragmented and privatised care system is unfit to meet the needs of the public. It’s time for a National Care Service. 

We know it’s time for radical change. Social care should become part of a nationally recognised institution which can respond to the needs of older and disabled people, improving and enriching their lives. As the largest union in the care sector, UNISON is now leading the campaign for a National Care Service.

Most social care in England is commissioned by local government and delivered by private companies. The system has been run down by a combination of huge funding cuts to councils and profit extraction.

National standards  are not properly enforced and care workers often face poverty wages and exploitation. Pay for care workers is at rock-bottom, despite being a difficult, skilled job with huge responsibilities. Some are taking home even less due to inadequate travel time or overnight pay.

Care workers are the beating heart of a system that should look after our loved ones with compassion and kindness. Care workers must be valued, recognised and rewarded as skilled professionals. 

We want to see a National Care Service that: 

  • gives access to quality care for all those who need it. 
  • is focused on providing world-class social care, not delivering profits for shareholders. 
  • has national pay, terms and conditions for all care workers and a proper workforce plan. 
  • has the long-term and adequate funding for a high-quality care service. 
  • includes an emergency pay boost for all care workers, helping to end the staffing crisis. 

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Social care is a cause close to the heart of UNISON’s general secretary Christina McAnea. As a long-term advocate for care workers and co-chair of the Future Social Care Coalition, one of her key priorities is for the  union to lead ​a long-overdue reform of the social care system. 

“We need a national care service – like the NHS. Care workers need parity of esteem with their colleagues in the health service. We’ve seen how the two systems are completely intertwined – if one fails, so will the other. Social care can no longer be treated as the forgotten frontline.
(Blog: ‘Now is the time to end this national scandal’)

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Sign the petition asking all MPs to introduce a national care service.

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We are the largest union in the care sector. Join today and be part of this essential campaign.


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Find out more about UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter, Residental Care Charter and Coronavirus advice for care workers.



Dreams can come true

Five people deeply connected to the care sector explain what it’s like now – and what a national care service would mean for them

Behind the headlines, Magazine, Uncategorized on the Magazine site.

Care sector couldn’t function without its migrant workforce, says UNISON

A national care service and a fair pay agreement for care staff are needed to reform the care service

MPs pledge to support a national care service

A UNISON event at parliament sought to ignite the political will in Westminster to make a national care service a reality

From left to right, Andrew Gwynne MP, Christina McAnea, Wes Streeting MP and Andrew Harrop - general secretary of the Fabians society sit at the top table of the national care service summit hosted at UNISON centre, a national care service summit graphic on a tv screen behind them.

Making a national care service – from roadmap to reality

UNISON hosted the Fabian Society’s National Care Service Summit, bringing together stakeholders to discuss the practicalities of creating a national care service

Migrant family ban makes no sense without proper reform of social care, says UNISON

The ban means overseas care staff will be much less likely to come to work in the UK. But migrant workers are still very much needed