Merge NHS and social care, says Labour
The NHS and social care budgets in England may be combined to create an excellent pot to satisfy the desires of the ageing population, Labour says.
The money – worth £119bn this year – may well be used to offer more joined-up care around the hospital, mental health and care sectors, the party believes.
In a speech on Thursday, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham will say the present arrangements are outdated.
He will claim “dangerous” gaps between services put the vulnerable in danger.
The proposal could see councils get far more fascinated about making decisions concerning the NHS, while the most important hospitals may result expanding into the community, maybe even running care homes.
But government sources suggested this sort of move could emerge as undermining clinical commissioning groups – the recent bodies that are taking control of the health budget under the govt. reforms.
That would mean “taking power faraway from doctors and nurses”, they said.
Combining the budgets may also require changes to the best way money is sent around the system.
And it’d raise an issue mark over the means testing of social care.
Currently people with assets over £23,250 must pay for help, but how that may be enforced in a combined system is unclear.
But Mr Burnham will deny the plan is any kind of reorganisation when he addresses an audience of health professionals in London.
He will dub the proposal, that is being put out to consultation, as “whole-person care”.
“As we are living longer, people’s needs become a blur of physical, mental and social.
“It is only impossible to disaggregate them and meet them through our three separate services.
“But that is what we’re still seeking to do.”
He will say that hospices are vulnerable to becoming “warehouses” for the elderly as social care support is being reduce.
“We’re deciding to buy failure on a grand scale, allowing people to fail at home and drift into expensive hospital beds and from there into expensive care homes.
“The hassle isn’t any-one has the motivation to take a position in prevention.”
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health managers, said: “Mr Burnham is actually right to spotlight the long-term pressures facing the NHS and the will for radical change to deal with them.
“A cocktail of monetary pressure and demographic change suggests that the NHS should adapt to fulfill the wishes of today’s patients.
“We urgently need an all-party debate about these issues, with radical solutions a great deal allowed. The NHS will judge the plans of all politicians on how they assist the service tackle these massive problems.”