Happy new year to you all! I say that although the festivities feel so long ago already. The only reminder I have is that it’s a dry, caffeine free and bread free month for me. It seemed like a good idea at the time… not so sure now.

A new year is always a good time to take stock though, on many levels – firstly on the waistline (for me anyway), personal aspirations, professional goals and organisational focus – we know there is plenty to focus on.

It appears Mr Lamb has been working hard on his. I was encouraged to hear the news that Norman Lamb MP, supported by two former Health Secretaries, Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn, has proposed the creation of a cross-party Commission to review the future of health and social care in England. As we know, we have an aging population and this will need to be considered and planned for. The demand for services will increase and greater support for carers needed as the demographic changes.

It has been said of the proposed Commission, “Its aim is to engage with the public, staff in the NHS and care services and civic society on the massive challenge the NHS and care services face.”  That would be very welcome, wouldn’t it?

If the importance of the future of health and social care in this country isn’t taken more seriously the impact will be disastrous, now and in years to come. We know the key is that health and social care need to work together to meet the needs of vulnerable and older people – the question is how? Both health and social care are underfunded and the sector is fragile and unstable, in its current form at least. Work has begun pulling health and social care together but all too often they just simply don’t work efficiently as one. Plenty of work to do!

I feel that social care is seen as the ‘poor relation’ and does not attract the kudos it should. But, if social care fails, health will suffer. There is an inherent link between the two. My prediction for this year is that social care and the work, support and genuine care that goes on will start to be acknowledged more than it has ever been, which can only be a good thing!

Last week I signed, on behalf of ARC England, an open letter sent to David Cameron, urging the Government to support the proposal from Norman Lamb. There were more than 40 signatures on the letter, from recognised names within the charitable sector. Let’s hope Mr Cameron takes the time to read it and take it on board. Time will tell. This proposed Commission is a start and a step in the right direction at any rate. Maybe our message has started to get through.

Best wishes

Lisa Lenton
ARC England Director

PS – By the way it’s actually Chinese year of the monkey. I read on the web that the Chinese zodiac prediction for 2016 focuses on competition and challenge, very apt. I think we should add collaboration and co-operation in to that too.