Jeremy Hunt pledges to fight for more resources in the social care system
Notwithstanding the commitment by the Prime Minister to award an extra £384 million a week for the NHS, Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has vowed to “do battle” with the Treasury to secure the money he needs to reform the social care system and free up hospital beds, without which he thinks that the extra money for the NHS will be wasted.
He says: “There is a total understanding across government that the health and social care systems are interdependent and that to make this settlement work we also need a long-term plan for the social care system as the next step. We know that the success of the NHS plan depends on doing the right thing for social care as well.”
However, Hunt is not a one trick pony on how NHS resources should be spent. He argues strongly for a workforce plan to train enough doctors and nurses. Before the 70th anniversary of the NHS on July 3 he will also outline plans to exploit new technology and to improve mental health care. He says: “In 10 years’ time we will be talking about how technology has transformed health. We have three of the world’s top 10 medical research universities. We invented IVF and Cat scanners. We decoded DNA. We can capitalise on it. That means using artificial intelligence to diagnose diseases, and “genomics to customise care.”
Responding to the NHS funding announcement, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, says: “This represents a significant improvement compared to recent years and both the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary deserve credit for securing a longer-term settlement.
“But we must be realistic – this sum falls way short of the 4 per cent a year figure which the independent report we commissioned said was required to bring ‘even modest improvements’ given the huge additional demands on the NHS.
“We also remain concerned about the fate of social care. The government says it will ensure the NHS does not come under more pressure because of social care pressures – that must mean major public investments in social care. If it is serious about this the government needs to put its money where its mouth is.
“The NHS will do everything it can to make this settlement work, but we are not in a good place and it will take time to turn services around. And if this is all we can afford we must be realistic about what can be achieved.”