The NHS Alliance has responded to the King’s Fund’s call for evidence on the ‘commission on the future of health and social care in England’. The two leads on the response have commented below:
Dr Donal Hynes, vice chair, NHS Alliance said: “The principles of the NHS remain more critical to our nation than ever. But in order that those principles can be safeguarded, we need a step-change away from our traditional concentration on the disease and the individual. The overriding centre of attention must be on health and communities. The NHS will no longer be focused on treating disease but on maintaining health.
“Most diseases are significantly contributed to by our lifestyles – and will be even more so in the future. Unless we accord the same priority to these social challenges we will be failing our population. Thus the artificial divisions of social and health budgets are no longer tenable and we advocate the full inclusion of our co-colleagues in social care within the core decision-making process of the NHS.
“The shift of focus away from diseases and the individual, and towards health-maintenance and communities, will provide a significant problem for many healthcare professionals who have been nurtured in a culture that defines them by the illness they treat. But meeting that challenge head-on will be decisive for the survival of the NHS.”
Merron Simpson, special advisor on housing and homes, NHS Alliance said: “From experience, we can’t expect a purely technical integration of health and social care to deliver better outcomes for less money – the current Holy Grail. These professions will increasingly need to integrate what they do with the work of community-based organisations that help to keep people well and independent in their communities. Housing providers are perhaps the largest local players and many of them work to help some of the most vulnerable citizens to live healthy and productive lives. They need to be part of the picture and of this Commission.”