Responding to the government’s integration and social care white paper, Hugh Alderwick, Head of Policy at the Health Foundation, said:
‘The overall emphasis on promoting closer integration of health and care services is welcome – and fits with what the NHS and local authorities are already trying to do in different parts of the country. The white paper rightly acknowledges that no single approach will work everywhere in England.
‘But it is vague on what the changes may mean in practice and risks overclaiming what integration can achieve. There is also a risk of confusion, given the NHS in England is already being reorganised through the Health and Care Bill currently being debated in Parliament. The relationship between these different changes is not always clear.
‘The proposal for single leaders for health and social care in local ‘places’ sounds simple but may cause disruption and added layers of management – and the fundamental differences between how the NHS and social care systems work will remain intact. Making collaboration work in practice depends as much on culture, management, resources, and other factors as it does on changes to structures and lines of accountability.
‘Better integration between services is no replacement for properly funding them. The social care system in England is on its knees and central government funding over the coming years is barely enough to meet growing demand for care – let alone expand and improve the system.
‘More integration is also little good if there aren’t enough staff to deliver services. Staffing shortages in health and social care are chronic, yet government has no long-term plan to address them.’
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