The health and social care profession has responded to the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham’s pledge to bring social care into the NHS so that we have one service and one team – an NHS for the whole person.
In a speech at the Labour Party Conference, Mr Burnham promised to end “slapdash” 15 minute home care visits and provide new support for unpaid carers including funding for carer’s breaks and the right to an annual health check. The focus is on providing person-centred care in and around the home.
Alzheimer’s Society comment:
‘Integrating health and social care is a welcome step. But whoever forms the next Government must address overall funding. This is wider than the proceeds of a Mansion Tax. People with dementia should have as much right to state funding for the support they need as people with other conditions such as cancer.
‘We shouldn’t assume that everything the NHS does is right and everything care providers do is wrong. A new system must take the best of both and put the patient and the carer’s interests first.’
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age said:
“We welcome a vision of the NHS that would create an integrated health and social care system that’s fit to meet the needs of an ageing society. Since older people are the most frequent users of NHS services, better coordination of care at home and in hospital makes sense. We also welcome pledges to improve the lives of carers and free NHS care for the terminally ill. However we are concerned about the lack of a corresponding vision of how these plans will be paid for and put in place”.
NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster said:
“Andy Burnham’s speech was consistent with some of the asks set out in the 2015 Challenge. In particular, his pledge to pursue joined-up service delivery around individual patients and local communities is something that everyone in the NHS would support. The physical, mental and social care needs of people need to be met through coordinated care. The emphasis on building capacity in the community to better support patients and therefore the hospital system is also welcome.
“Integrating services and ‘bringing in social care’ is easy to say, however, and much more difficult to deliver. There are significant financial and structural consequences that need to be managed. We look forward to further discussion on these with the Labour health team on how they would achieve this.
“What is clear is that a messy structural reorganisation of the administration of healthcare will get in the way of changes to healthcare delivery, and must be avoided at all costs. I am also keen to understand his plans for how trusts become accountable care organisations. This too should benefit patients and not be based on a top-down structural solution.
“What is paramount, and what the NHS needs to focus on, is that the health care and social care services people receive are well co-ordinated, no matter which organisation they are commissioned or provided by. There is room in the National Health Service for more than one way to do things, as long as the standards are high and the focus is on compassionate care for patients.”