New health secretary urged to 'grasp social care challenge'

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NHS Confederation leaders have written to new health secretary Matt Hancock urging him to “grasp the social care challenge”.

The organisation's chair Stephen Dorrell, a former health secretary, and chief executive Niall Dickson are calling for a joint plan that covers both health and care - and for the government to publish the social care green paper soon.

"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,” the letter says.

It adds: “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.”

Page one of the letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: July 2018    Page two of the letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: July 2018

'Unfinished business'

The letter also points out that the future funding arrangements for social care, public health, staff training and capital are “unfinished business” and need to be known.

The letter 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 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 and describes this as having “real merit”.

In June, the Prime Minister revealed that the NHS will receive an average 3.4 per cent a year real-terms increase in funding over the next five years – a sum which falls short of the 4 per cent extra-a-year figure judged necessary to improve services in a report commissioned by the NHS Confederation.

The Confederation has set out ten key priorities for the new health secretary. In June, the organisation also published a briefing setting out what the NHS needs to see from the social care green paper.

Read the letter in full.

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