Health and social care are part of the same ecosystem, serving the same populations | Nick Kirby

Nick Kirby

Across the public sector there is a core ethos and common set of values - service for the greater good of society, collaboration for improvement and a determination to make a positive difference for individuals, carers and families at times of need. These bind what can often seem disparate constellations to better serve our local, regional and national populations, writes Nick Kirby, managing director of the Shelford Group.
These values run deep in the NHS and the Shelford Group is no different. We are a collaboration of ten of the largest NHS hospital trusts spanning community healthcare services to specialised care and rare conditions; world leading biomedical research to the adoption of best practice generated by others; degree level teaching to vocational training for the full spectrum of healthcare professionals.
Our motivation in support of social care encompasses many reasons but can perhaps be best articulated by recognising that we all form part of the same ecosystem, serving the same populations. The most striking characteristic of this ecosystem is one of interdependence.
Many of the people we serve have both health and social care needs. Addressing either of these alone, or in isolation, is inadequate at best and for some will constitute a catastrophic failure of the state. Providing the right level of resources to recognise this interdependency is therefore an essential prerequisite to best serve the needs of our population.
Beyond the immediate interdependency there is a wider world of opportunity for health and social care services to realise new synergies in improving population outcomes. One example of this is in research and innovation. The strategic priority given to social care by the National Institute of Health Research has the potential to achieve benefits in social care in the same way that research investment in the NHS has benefited millions of patients. Both those treated today accessing novel diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, as well as those treated tomorrow with inventions that would
otherwise not have been realised.
The final common feature for this ecosystem is the risk for a gap to exist between two important communities - those with experience and expertise of frontline service delivery and those with the responsibility for initiating, designing and implementing national policy.
The Health for Care coalition contributes to bridging this gap, recognising that it is our colleagues in social care who need to be prominent in informing national policy. Our aim is to amplify their voice for the collective benefit of people who are served by the health and social care ecosystem.
Nick Kirby is managing director of the Shelford Group. This blog is part of a series to support Health for Care's campaign for a sustainable future for social care - read more here.

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