Two significant studies hit the desk of Care Home Professional today that both aim to improve outcomes for our ageing population as the country struggles to pay for care in the community, hospitals and care homes.
The first, by ResPublica, suggests that independent care homes have the skills and capacity to rescue the NHS from bed-blocking elderly patients, who cannot be discharged because they have nowhere safe to go.
The second was from NHS England, which says it wants to design healthy new towns that promote wellbeing, and provide joined up services ranging from schools, playgrounds, social care, doctors and hospitals.
Both ideas have merit. The UK population is getting fatter and older. This is leading to more people with complex health needs that the NHS has to tackle. The logic that healthier lives will keep people away from GPs and hospitals makes sense, but that is where common sense ends.
The NHS has a terrible record of over-reaching and wasting taxpayer money. The fact that some NHS hospitals comfortably deliver excellent outcomes within budget is proof that all NHS hospitals can and should.
Too many NHS hospitals already fail to control waiting lists and force people to wait for many hours before being seen in A&E. While failing in these core areas, it is ludicrous to think that they should be given additional responsibility and, no doubt, money, to explore how they can reshape their local communities to the point of being involved in the planning process for 75,000 new homes.
ResPublica makes a far more sensible suggestion, which is to take £3 billion of NHS funding and give it to the immeasurably more efficient independent care sector to manage step down services from hospitals.
Regrettably, one idea means more money and control for the all-powerful NHS. The other takes money away from the country’s most unreformed public service provider.
There are no prizes for guessing which idea the Government will prefer. Get ready to move into NHSville.