Responding to Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock’s speech at the Conservative Party conference, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“The most important message of this speech was the Secretary of State’s commitment to to rebalance our healthcare system in England and provide more support in the community and closer to home.
“Without this, the NHS is unsustainable. Even with more money, we simply cannot afford to go as are.
“The health secretary is also right to highlight the huge potential of technology which can change the way healthcare is delivered very significantly in the next ten years. That will require a new and much more vibrant partnership with industry – he deserves real credit for championing this.
“And of course any extra funds for social care are welcome. It is a sign that health ministers are fighting the battle for social care within government. But as we approach winter, we need to accept that social care is in a perilous state – the market for providing care is incredibly fragile, with operators pulling out or closing down. There is a risk of another scandal such as Winterbourne View and we continue to see NHS hospitals unable to discharge patients because there is nowhere to support them in the community.
“More importantly, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people are unable to access the care and support they need.
“Today’s announcement is no more than a stop gap – in the Budget we need funding to address the current crisis and at the very least a commitment to setting a long term funding settlement.
“The evidence suggests social care needs nearly 4% a year to meet the needs of an ageing population and an increasing number of younger adults with disabilities.
“If it is to be true to its promises the Government must produce fully-costed social care reform that goes hand-in-hand with the upcoming NHS plan. Without this the health service plan will fail.”