'˜Match NHS pledge with funds for social care'

THE GOVERNMENT must match its £20bn a year investment in the NHS with similar funding for social care and public health if Yorkshire's health services are to meet their ambitions, a regional leader has warned.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Rob Webster, lead chief executive of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, one of three sustainability and transformation partnerships in the region, said the “quite contentious” partnerships were the best way to tackle the region’s health inequalities - but for them to rise to their challenges, greater investment was needed.

The partnerships, which bring together hospital and health trusts with councils to pool resources and change the way care is delivered to help plug funding black holes, have previously been criticised as a route to back-door privatisation of the NHS.

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But Mr Webster said they are “more likely to retain public ownership of the NHS and social care system”, and that they are the tool to implement the Prime Minister’s 10-year plan for the NHS.

“The investment in the NHS is welcome, but what we need now from the chancellor and the Government is similar investment in social care and public health so that we can meet our ambitions,” he said.

He warned that despite the “significant financial pressures” faced by the NHS, sight should not be lost of the importance of local government and public health in impacting Yorkshire’s health, and that a “shift” is need to deal with the people living longer with multiple health issues.

“In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, 70 per cent of the bed days in our hospitals are for people who are older. Half of GP attendances are for people with a long term condition that will never be cured, and increasingly, people have more than one thing wrong with them,” he said.

“What we need to do is shift from an NHS which is about fixing people, to an NHS which is about working with people, because you will never be cured of being older, or having a special educational need, or a long-term condition or an enduring mental health problem. We have got to change the way we deliver care because of that demographic.”

The chief secretary to the Treasury, Elisabeth Truss, said the Government recognised social care reform was needed, and any discussion would follow the publication of the Social Care Green Paper this autumn.