The UK government plans to spend an extra £20bn on the NHS but how? If it’s just more spending on the same pattern then the same crises will recur; overloaded Accident and Emergency, vulnerable people unable to leave hospital because they have nowhere to go, unnecessary medication prescribed to people whose real need is not drugs but care, care at home being badly delivered by underpaid and untrained staff on minimum wage, and the potential neighbourly contribution of millions of citizens ignored.
There is a better way and some sparks of hope can be found in today’s FT article (How tackling loneliness offers hope for struggling NHS). The Shed, in Halifax brings lonely and vulnerable people to help each other instead of seeking specialist mental health attention.
West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership has taken this and other initiatives to ease demand for care.
There were 500 fewer delayed discharge days this September and this has saved £150,000.
As a member of a reform commission set up by the Mayor of Cambridge and Peterborough I have seen a great new project set up by Cambridgeshire Social Services in St Ives and Soham based on the Buurtzog model. At the University of East Anglia similar care collaborations with multiple partnerships are beginning to emerge. The Cambridgeshire experiment puts care professionals at the heart of communities of 10000 and starts joining up disparate services so people cease being shuttled from agency to form-filling agency.
This is the future, helped by the remote monitoring and diagnostics that technology can support. What’s vital now is that a large enough slice of the £20bn is set aside for these solutions, not poured exclusively into the parallel leaky buckets of compartmentalised local authority and NHS care.