In the past few days, Health and Social Care Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Thérèse Coffey announced the government’s new ‘Our plan for patients to improve care for patients this winter and in the future’. Let’s explore these changes.
Firstly, there will be an expectation that anyone who requires an appointment with a GP should get one within 2 weeks. Those who have ‘the most urgent needs’ should get one on the same day. We all know that getting an appointment with a GP can be challenging so this policy will undoubtedly be welcomed by many. However, the BMA (British Medical Association) reports that GP practices across the UK are “experiencing significant and growing strain with declining GP numbers, rising demand, struggles to recruit and retain staff and knock-on effects for patients.” (taken from: Pressures in general practice data analysis (bma.org.uk)
The Government also said it would look to help people get out of hospitals and into social care support, by launching a £500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund. Dr Satya Raghuvanshi writing for the National Health Executive said that there are 13,000 hospital beds around 1 in 7 that are “filled with patients declared fit to discharge by doctors but can’t leave because of staff shortages and poor coordination across the system. This is costing the NHS around £5.5 million a day.” One of the ways that Dr Satya Raghuvanshi discusses can be used to help manage and reduce the impact of hospital discharge is building better communication and use of systems to ensure effective communication across organisations. (Quote from: Patient discharge: a communication problem? | UK Healthcare News (nationalhealthexecutive.com)
Lastly, the plan also reflects changes to pension rules to retain more experienced senior clinicians and explores strengthening how we use volunteers in the health service, including to support ambulance services. Efforts to reduce wait times for an ambulance and to see a healthcare professional when needed are issues which Earlier in September Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, the Associate Medical Director and Consultant Cardiologist from the British Heart Foundation, highlighted when BHF responded to wait times by saying: “Minutes matter when you’re having a heart attack or stroke, and timely treatment could be the difference between life and death. That is why it’s so serious that we continue to see dangerously high average ambulance waiting times and ever-growing waiting lists for time-critical cardiac care, despite NHS staff doing all they can.” To read the full response from BHF visit: Warning over ambulance waiting times for heart attacks and strokes (bhf.org.uk).
We are committed to being the leading person-focused event for people with lived experience. So, If you have any thoughts on the changes to health and social care and the impact on disabled people, please let us know so we can highlight them.
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4 thoughts on “Health and Social Care Reform”
If you couple the spiralling living costs with extended waiting times for treatment and consultations, it’s a very worrying times for so many people who live with disability.
What I’m not seeing in any of the announcements is the heavy investment needed to stop the NHS haemorrhaging frontline staff. Volunteers will mostly be of a lower or non-clinical skillbase and can surely only be a sticking plaster to this looming catastrophe, not a long term strategy.
We couldn’t agree more, it’s a very worrying time for the whole of the community. We will be talking more on the cost of living crisis in next week’s blog post.
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