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Friday, 13 July 2018

NHS leaders urge new Health Secretary to 'grasp social care challenge'

Written by Jennifer Cockerell

NHS leaders have written to new Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock urging him to "grasp the social care challenge".

The letter calls for a joint plan that covers both health and social care, and for the Government to publish its green paper on social care as soon as possible.

The letter, titled "leading the health and care system", is signed by Niall Dickson (pictured), chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare system, and its chairman Stephen Dorrell, a former Conservative health secretary.

The letter says: "We do not need an NHS plan, we need a health and care plan.

"The current system is fragmented, but can be united behind a set of common priorities.

"We hope you will grasp the social care challenge - this will mean publishing the promised Social Care Green Paper soon, with realistic options that will address the current and future funding challenge.

"The case for short-term funding to lift the immediate pressures on social care is also overwhelming."

The letter says future funding arrangements for social care, public health, staff training and capital are "unfinished business" and need to be known.

It adds: "Without these elements, there is a danger the additional money identified thus far will not achieve the transformation in these services which is so badly needed.

"We would be the first to concede that money alone is necessary but not sufficient.

"As well as more resources, a concerted effort is needed to create more integrated services, tackle unwarranted variation, introduce new technology and ways of working and new models of care in the community."

The letter, which begins by offering "congratulations on your appointment", also notes that the Health and Care Select Committee's recent report on integrated care called for a transformation strategy and a fund to drive this change, which it describes as having "real merit".

Mr Hancock was promoted to the new role on Monday after his predecessor Jeremy Hunt - the longest-serving health secretary - became Foreign Secretary.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the Local Government Association's (LGA) community wellbeing board, said: "We look forward to working with the new Health and Social Care Secretary on the increasingly urgent need to secure an immediate and long-term funding settlement for adult social care to rescue it from a point of crisis and enable it to play its part in helping people to live independently and well.

"People's unmet care needs will continue to increase unless a long-term funding settlement, like the NHS, is secured for the sector and further funding is made available for council's public health and prevention services.

"The root causes of ill-health and loss of independence also need to be addressed. Investment in councils' prevention work in our communities is vital for people's wellbeing, for reducing demands on the NHS and social care and for saving money to the public purse."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) NHS Confederation / PA Wire.