Altmann predicts ‘radical reforms’ from combined health/social care brief
January 10th, 2018
Bringing health and social care into a single department under one secretary of state is a positive move that could pave the way for radical reform, Baroness Ros Altmann has said.
The former pensions minister (pictured) said she was “delighted” in the change, and that it was “long overdue”.
In Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle that has been taking place for the last two days, Jeremy Hunt not only kept his role as health secretary, but was also given the added responsibility of social care policy.
Altmann said: “The artificial distinction between healthcare and social care makes no sense and is something that families fail to understand. Politicians have not explained this, as if the public did understand it, they would realise just how unfair it is.”
She explained that, without a joined-up system, councils have a “perverse” incentive to maximise the costs of care to the NHS, because the longer an elderly person is in hospital (at a cost of approximately £3,000 a week, she said), the council is saving some £600 on the resources that person would have needed to be cared for at home.
Altmann continued: “[The] integration of health and care could allow radical reforms […] GPs could ‘prescribe’ or ‘advise’ frailer patients to get some help or some preventive aids like handrails or emergency alarms that will reduce risks to their health.
“Until now, successive governments have abjectly failed to prepare for care of our aging population.”
She added: “The babyboomers are just starting to reach their 70s now. In a few years’ time, this huge demographic group will need care in ever-increasing numbers and nothing has been done to plan for funding these manifestly predictable future needs.
“There is no silver bullet; a combination of measures is needed, alongside the integration of health and care.”
As part of the prime minister’s reshuffle, former secretary of state for work and pensions David Gauke was moved to the Ministry of Justice, and replaced with Esther McVey, the fifth person to hold the position since 2016. Hunt has been health secretary since 2012.
Source: Professional Adviser