THE NATIONWIDE debate surrounding next month’s 70th anniversary of the NHS has, so far, been shaped by Theresa May’s £20bn promise which will be funded by a combination of the so-called Brexit divided and unspecified tax increases. Yet, even though social care has been added to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s brief, the only mention of this important sphere of a policy is the promise of a Green Paper – political terminology for yet another interminable review.
The NHS is not just about hospitals and headline promises. However, unless shortcomings in social care are addressed, the number of ‘delayed discharges’ will increase – and place overstretched hospitals under even more pressure as A&E waiting times mount. And then there are the challenges in general practice which Dr Richard Vautrey, a Leeds GP, is due to set out to the British Medical Association today.
Local surgeries across the country are effectively the frontline of the NHS. If they don’t fulfil their long-established role, patients will simply go to A&E instead and hospitals will not feel the intended benefits of the funding boost. And until a long-term plan is put in place to cover all aspects of care, the NHS simply risks lurching from one crisis to another.