2018 changes within Health and Social Care: The Green Paper

Health and Social Care under Jeremy Hunt

Change is a constant in life. From changing jobs to moving house or looking for a new pair of socks. It is regular as clockwork and can be beneficial or detrimental, it depends on the circumstances, the individual and for social care, the moral meaning. At the start of 2018 several ministerial changes took place at the highest echelons of the industry but what could these changes mean for social workers?

The biggest and depending on where you sit, the most beneficial/detrimental benefit is that Jeremy Hunt now adds social care into his job title. He is now the head of the department of Health and Social Care. Whilst this change has no immediate implications in terms of integrating the two departments and it is a positive step in the right direction. Following the announcement, Hunt, took to Twitter to say:

“How we treat the elderly is the litmus test of a civilised society. The health and social care systems are umbilically linked, so putting leadership in one government department makes sense as a first step ahead of a vital green paper.”

This tweet could be seen as the first step towards integration but it is too soon to tell. The tweet whilst welcomed also received its fair share of criticism. The biggest impact of this decision is that Hunt and his new department are in direct control of the Green Paper. 

The Green Paper

The Green Paper is the last remaining element from a social care dominated general election last year. The election saw the Conservative Party being battered for their so-called ‘Dementia Tax’. By combining health and social care, even in this limited state adds a level of intrigue, as to whether this is the long awaited merger of the two departments. Is this the moment that social care receives equal billing in a department that has historically prioritised, health? Only time will tell but we do know that the Green Paper will appear next summer. It will be interesting to see what proposals are brought forth in this paper.

Reportedly, Hunt, asked for direct responsibility of the Green Paper. This makes him politically invested in its success or failure. Put forth proposals that come across as disingenuous and we will see ’colourful metaphors’ plastered all over social media. Sticking plasters will not cut it when it comes to health and social care. 

Integrating Health and Social Care

These two close neighbours have been separated for far too long. They need to be fully integrated to embrace working together and the benefits that these will bring, not just financially but also physically for the wellbeing of the citizen. Multi-agency working and software to support it is required to make the most of valuable resources. 

One example of how health and social care can work together for the citizen to improve wellbeing and save money is within the problem of Delayed Transfers of Care.

The issue of Delayed Transfers of Care costs the NHS in England £900 million per year. This problem emanates from patients being fit to be discharged but no on-going care being available for them. This delay is costly as for each day, an elderly patient is kept in hospital, it costs the NHS an estimated £400, and it also costs the patient 10% of their body strength. By working together and employing a technological solution such as OLM’s BedFinder, health and social care can save time and money. 

By working together, health and social care, can tackle the problems associated with a system that needs to provide more with less. The Green Paper will feed into this and we hope that Jeremy Hunt and the advisory group put together for this takes joint working into account and sees the benefits of integration between the departments and 21st century means of working.

Regardless of where you sit in the discussion, we can all agree that 2018 will be a key year for health and social care and a year of change. We will keep an eye on all of the discussions emerging from this topic and keep you apprised as to their developments. We work with you, our customers to build products that directly solve your problems, we don’t put sticking plasters on open wounds and we hope that the Green Paper does not do this.