Welcome to 2018! Not, however, the best of times for the NHS. I don’t think a day has gone by when the NHS hasn’t hit the headlines this winter. This must be demoralising for the hard pressed, overstretched men and women that provide this jewel of a public service. Such headlines are hardly likely to boost morale and will probably only add to the burden as staff leave under the pressure of it all.
This most recent scrutiny highlights the demand put on Accident and Emergency departments across the UK as they struggle to cope with what some are calling the worst flu outbreak in decades. As I see it, however, the problem stretches far further than this most recent focus. Once this seasonal demand is over, we will go back to the media reporting on how the NHS is at crisis point through a lack of beds with the main culprit identified as ‘bed blocking’. I don’t think it is any coincidence that the NHS finds itself under such consistent pressure after years of under investment in Social Care. To my mind, the solution doesn’t lay at the door of the NHS, I believe it can only be resolved with a healthier investment in Social Care. A better resourced, better funded Social Care sector will provide the range of community supports required for people to leave hospital once the NHS staff have done their job. This plays to the strengths of both the NHS and Social Care sectors and will ultimately lead to better outcomes for the people who lives depend on a well rounded care sector.
Let’s hope the Minister for Health and Social Care thinks the same and looks to see how this joint portfolio can be used to explore joint solutions to this joint problem.
Peter Jung, ARC UK Chair