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Wednesday, June 10, 1998 Published at 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK


Health

Carers promised help, but no cash yet

Carers are to get a national strategy


BBC's Today programme on carers' strategy
The government is to involve carers in creating a national strategy for the seven million carers in Britain, the Prime Minister has announced.

Junior health minister Paul Boateng will head a review of policy for carers and a strategy will be published next year.

The government will set up an independent body of carers organisations which will advice ministers and civil servants.

Paul Boateng said: "This government will ensure that carers' concerns are no longer ignored. Our strategy will be inclusive and flexible."

New measures

The new strategy would look at how new measures, such as the new NHS charter on patients' rights and responsibilities, could be brought together to benefit carers.

There will also be a draft Care Charter for people who need long-term care, such as the elderly and disabled. It will set out performance standards for health, social and housing services and give information on how carers can get help.

Carers have welcomed the news which comes in National Carers Week.

Jill Pitkeathley, chief executive of the Carers National Association, said: "There could be no more fitting tribute in National Careers Week to the devotion of Britain's six million carers, than this announcement by the Prime Minister. It will gladden the hearts of carers everywhere."

However, many are worried that there may not be any extra money to back the strategy.

Resources

Paul Boateng said there no immediate plans for extra resources for the strategy. But he said: "As a government, we recognise that there are resource implications for the national strategy for carers and we are looking at that."


[ image: Paul Boateng will head the carers' strategy]
Paul Boateng will head the carers' strategy
"There are an enormous number of people who have caring responsibilities and who receive nothing at the moment in the way of financial help," says Helen Dent from the Family Welfare Association.

"This policy is going to have to address the fact that if we are going to reach out to all carers, then more money will have to be found."

There are estimated to be around four million women and three million men carers in the UK today. More than 50,000 are under 18.

Survey

A survey by the CNA shows that half have to give up work because of their caring responsibilities and 70% do caring work for more than 100 hours a week. Many feel isolated and unsupported and suffer physical and emotional ill health as a result.



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