“Our ultimate objective is to bring together NHS, social care and public health seamlessly – pooling budgets in every area and supporting integrated care systems. We want to see services that work in a more joined-up way for the people who depend on them.” Liberal Democrat policy
What is the challenge?
Services for health and wellbeing don’t link up properly. The NHS runs health care while local councils run social care and public health services. Budgets for both are under huge pressure. During later years people tend to have increasing need for health care; making truly joined-up health and care vital to the provision of both. In particular, lack of social care capacity often means people stay in hospital when they should be cared for in the community. Processes for communicating between organisations can be over complicated and wasteful. Limited health budgets mean the money available is focused on those who are ill or suffering and not enough attention is given to systems of wellbeing that help people stay healthy and minimise ill-health. Health inequalities are widening and life expectancy stalling, and we have one of the worst rates of depression in Europe. Too often carers don’t receive the support they need.
What will we do?
We will do everything in our power to join up health and care services so that providers can decide on the top priorities for resources together as well as collaborating to encourage healthy living. A local council doesn’t have the authority to fully link the NHS and care systems but we can create some mechanisms to help them work together locally.
In Wiltshire, a Liberal Democrat council will:
- Make health and care part of a joined-up approach and mind-set for all policy making by ensuring that plans in areas such as education, housing, transport and leisure support wellbeing at the same time as encouraging sustainable, low-carbon lifestyles – for example by inspiring residents to walk, cycle and exercise;
- Reach out to and learn from others regarding innovative ways of developing our services to work in a more joined up way, such as on the model of the Mendip Health Connections programme;
- Work with all health partners to develop integrated care centres in our market towns to provide health and care related services closer to home;
- Promote a prescribing community pharmacy service to allow pharmacists to play a full role in primary health care, including the social prescribing aspect, and promote use of electronic prescriptions for the convenience of patients and carers;
- Encourage all health and care partners to develop secure data sharing systems that enhance the quality of care; avoid duplication of information; and ensure that every clinician has access to all relevant facts. This will require secure data systems and processes that are trusted by residents and service users; We will encourage residents to use health apps wherever possible to support their own well-being and public health.
- Bring together representatives of NHS, health and care providers, pharmacies, voluntary groups, town and parish councils to agree priorities for integration of services.