I was pleased to include my name amongst 90 cross-party colleagues in a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the Government to establish an NHS and Care Convention to find a sustainable long-term settlement for these services.
In its 70th year now is the time to take a careful objective look at the way NHS health and care services are provided and funded. In reply, the PM stated: “We are committed to engaging with all parties on these key issues and I have asked the Secretary of State for Health to outline our plans moving forward.” An opportunity will be lost if we don’t take advantage of this cross-party commitment to deliver properly funded integrated NHS services and care services. To achieve this it is important that people are given accurate information. For this reason I’m saddened that a few continue to claim that Cornwall and Scilly NHS face £270m+ cuts in funding. The actual fact is that Cornwall and Scilly will receive £142m+ increase in its allocation. In addition Cornwall received over £1.5m to assist with winter pressures. Check this at www.england.nhs.uk/allocations/. Also, to help reduce pressure on the NHS, Cornwall Council received and will receive an additional £24m in total over three years from 2017 to help people who otherwise stay in a hospital bed unnecessarily.
When I stood for election in 2015 I set out my commitment to do whatever I could to bring health and social care together in meaningful integration. This means bringing health and care services closer together and closer to home. I still firmly believe that this is the right thing to do. I also recognise that many have heard this over several years, even decades and have little faith. However, if you take the recent move to include social care into the responsibility of the Health Secretary right down to the locality plans drafted by GPs here in West Cornwall the commitment to this cause is stronger than ever. Many will be aware of emerging plans to create an Accountable Care System. Already some believe this is a backdoor towards privatisation. There is no evidence for this, nor is this the intention. The emerging plan proposes to bring commissioners and providers from across the NHS and Cornwall Council together to remove the barriers to delivering integrated health and care services. The obvious advantages, if it does what it says on the tin, is that a leadership team (from existing providers) takes collective responsibility for a health and care system and ensures the money is focused where it is needed. So often money is spent responding to a problem rather than preventing it. What is needed (and few would disagree) is a more joined up, better co-ordinated and more efficient health and care provision in Cornwall and on Scilly. The goal is ultimately to have a health and care system that has one budget and has the capacity and capability to deliver the health and care services we need. This is not the case now and the pressure on both the NHS and on social care is evident.