A White Paper has been published by the Government on health and social care reform.
The ‘Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all’ White Paper builds on the NHS Long Term Plan proposals and comes ahead of a Bill to be presented to Parliament to carry the proposals into law.
The measures include proposals to make integrated care the default, reduce legal bureaucracy, and better support social care, public health and the NHS.
A package of measures to deliver on specific needs in the social care sector is designed to improve oversight and accountability in the delivery of services through new assurance and data sharing measures in social care and update the legal framework to enable person-centred models of hospital discharge. The package also includes improved powers for the Secretary of State to directly make payments to adult social care providers where required.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) said: “The proposals build on what the NHS has called for and will become the foundations for a health and care system which is more integrated, more innovative and responsive, and more ready to respond to the challenges of tomorrow, from health inequalities to our ageing population.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO, Care England, said: “The publication of the NHS White Paper is an opportunity to recognise the interrelationship between health and social care and craft a long term vision for both sectors. Care England looks forward to working with the Government to develop this vision.
“The current situation where health and social care sit in distinct silos is not good for citizens, and is certainly not making the best of the resources available. We hope that these reforms will reshape the NHS and move us towards a system that is measured by the outcomes and which has a seamless interface between health and social care.”
While welcoming NHS reform Independent Care Group chair Mike Padgham said the Government had not gone far enough in outlining social care’s future, however.
Mike said: “We have argued for more than a decade that NHS care and social care need to be equal partners and ideally merged. But how can that happen when £8bn has been cut from social care budgets since 2010, some 1.4m people are living without the care they need and there are 100,000 vacancies for social care staff?”
Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, said the Government had made a “flimsy pledge” to set out reforms “this year”.
“We don’t need further reforms, we need a properly funded, publicly delivered National Health and Care Service – one that values the backbone of our health services, our staff,” Rehana said.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Executive Chairman of the National Care Association, told CHP the White Paper appeared more of a “restructure than a reform, which puts control back into the centre and disappointingly gives no indication of social care reform”.
Social Care Institute for Excellence Chief Executive Kathryn Smith said: “The White Paper proposals are welcome as they aim to assure the public that social care in their area is fit for purpose. We particularly support the need for stronger partnerships at the local level to drive improvements in health and care, with local government, other organisations and citizens as equal partners in decision making. We are often told that the further you are away from decision making the more powerless you can be as people and communities. These proposals should provide a good opportunity to tackle that issue; and we are also ready to support proposals to reintroduce a form of assessment of local authorities’ delivery of their adult social care duties.
“We’ve been calling for social care reform before and during the pandemic. Whilst this paper addresses many issues, there is still an urgent need for comprehensive reform. SCIE looks forward to working with the Department to deliver what those who draw on, or work in, social care desperately need.”