This week, The Government published new White Paper proposals aimed to bring the health and care services closer together.
The measures include proposals to make integrated care the default, reduce legal bureaucracy and better support social care, public health and the NHS. The Government said the reforms will enable the health and care sector to use technology in a modern way, establishing it as a better platform to support staff and patient care, for example, by improving the quality and availability of data across the health and care sector to enable systems to plan for the future care of their communities.
The White Paper also named reform in updating the legal framework to enable person-centred models of hospital discharge and introduce improved powers for the Secretary of State to directly make payments to adult social care providers where required.
Responding to the Government White Paper proposals, Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum, said, ‘There are some things that are to be welcomed in the White Paper including the greater assurance of local authorities meeting their statutory adult social care responsibilities, recognition of the power and importance of data and mechanisms to address some of the current shortfalls of distributing additional finances directly to the front line.
‘What this Paper is not – is the reform of social care that we have been talking about, and have been waiting for, for many years. It is not the plan to ‘fix social care’ or the plan that is ‘oven baked’ and ready to go. The plan we are all waiting for, has once again been drop kicked over the date line – landing at some unknown point ‘later in the year’.
‘What we need now, not later, is something that is ambitious for social care. Ambitious for people who receive social care, ambitious for people who work in it and ambitious for the communities that they are at the heart of. We are ambitious for social care – and the government must catch up.’
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.’
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of 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 Government’s White Paper aims to modernise the legal framework to make the health and social care system fit for the future and put in place targeted improvements for the delivery of public health and social care. It will support local health and care systems to deliver higher-quality care to their communities, in a way that is less legally bureaucratic, more accountable and more joined up, by bringing together the NHS, local government and partners together to tackle the needs of their communities as a whole.’
Following the announcement of the Government's Health and Social Care White Paper, James Bullion, ADASS President, said, ‘We welcome the White Paper. In our nine statements to help shape adult social care reform we have called for better-integrated working so that people can benefit from more joined-up support. We look forward to working with colleagues in government and across social care, including individuals who need and use care and support and their families, to co-produce a strengthened model of assurance so that together we achieve better outcomes for older and disabled people.
‘Publication of this White Paper should be seen as the first step in an important journey over the coming months that will help shape all of our futures. We note that the white paper reaffirms that proposals to reform social care will be published later this year. These must incorporate all outstanding issues, including a workforce plan to put social care staff on an equal footing with workers in the NHS, greatly improved support for family carers and a commitment to long-term funding to develop the kind of care and support that will enable us all to live the lives we want in the place we want to be.’
Michael Voges, Executive Director of ARCO, said, ‘Health does not exist in a vacuum. Many factors including our lifestyles, access to support when we need it, physical activity, social activity and our physical environment play a big role.
‘The Government is right therefore to identify that housing providers should be part of local ICS boards. This however is just a start – the UK’s housing and social care systems continue to have a blind spot about the extraordinary potential of the housing-with-care sector. Ministers need to take the lead on encouraging the growth of this sector and tackling the barriers to growth.
'If the health and care systems truly are to become more integrated and innovative then the major innovation represented by integrated housing and care can no longer be treated as an after-thought.’
Visit the Government website for more information about the Government White Paper.