Cuts cannot coincide with integration, doctors warn

Written by Tom Freeman on 26 June 2017 in News

Integration of health and social care across the UK is not supported by investment in capacity, warns BMA

Dr Peter Bennie - BMA

Reforms to integrate health and social care services in different parts of the UK are not being resourced properly, doctors at the BMA’s annual conference in Bournemouth have warned.

Different authorities across the UK have adopted different methods to get health and social care working together more closely to improve the quality and flow of care for patients.

However delegates passed a motion from BMA Scotland’s chair Dr Peter Bennie calling on politicians from all parties to stop “raising false expectations” about what integration could achieve under current budgets.


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Integration, it said, “cannot be done properly without adequate additional funding.”

The Scottish Government has said treating more people at home will be better for outcomes but also free up expensive hospital places.

But while BMA members overwhelmingly supported the principle of health and social care integration they called on governments to provide enough hospital beds and social care to meet demand.

Speaking afterwards Bennie said: “Each part of the UK has its own interpretation of how health and social care integration can be delivered. But what is clear is that whilst there is agreement that it is broadly the right direction of travel there remain significant concerns about the need for adequate funding and resources to deliver this policy effectively.

“New services in the community need to be properly up and running before the current in-patient services can safely be reduced or closed.”

Meanwhile the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee has called for views on the quality of patient care in Scotland.

The committee is looking into NHS governance and wants to know whether patients are treated with respect and dignity.

Convener Neil Findlay said: “The next stage of our work will look at the systems through which staff are held accountable for monitoring and improving the quality of care and services they deliver.

“NHS boards are responsible for delivering safe, effective and evidence-based services; services that treat patients with dignity and respect, and that are designed taking patients views and experiences into account. We want to hear views on how well these standards are being met.”

Scotland’s integrated authorities were established in April 2016 to bring councillors and NHS officials around the table to implement joined-up local strategies.

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