PHILIP HAMMOND will not be short of deputations prior to next month’s Autumn Statement when the Chancellor will set out his own spending plans – the change of Government, and a willingness on Theresa May’s part to slower the pace of deficit reduction following Brexit, means the lobbying will be even more intense in the coming weeks.
However, it would be remiss of the Chancellor to overlook today’s Health Select Committee letter on the crisis in social care. It is signed by Dr Sarah Wollaston, who is not only a respected former GP, but is one of the few politicians at Westminster to understand the financial intricacies of the NHS. When she upbraids Ministers by saying that their oft-repeated statements about record investment in the NHS are at odds with her experience, and the feedback she has received from the elderly, Mr Hammond must listen.
The reason so many hospitals have a shortage of beds is because they’re being occupied by immobile patients who can’t be discharged because of inadequate care arrangements in their community, a sphere of spending which comes under town hall budgets rather than the auspices of the NHS. With the Care Quality Commission also warning that social care has reached “a tipping point”, there needs to be a far closer correlation between hospital care and community services so the elderly, people who have paid taxes for their entire working lives, are not made to feel an unwelcome burden.