Government needs to invest in prevention and early intervention for a sustainable health and care system
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), NHS Confederation, and the Local Government Association (LGA) have shared their joint vision on the long-term solutions required to make the UK’s health and social care system resilient and preventative and to promote independence.
The organisations are calling on the UK Government to put in place concrete measures to achieve this aim now and in the future with three key asks:
- Invest in prevention and early intervention
- Create the ability to plan for the long term
- Deliver a long-term, fully funded workforce plan that covers health and social care, including the public health workforce
LGA, ADASS, and NHS Confederation collectively agree that high-quality, responsive, preventative, and personalised health and care services contribute a lot to people’s lives and to society as a whole. For example, through enabling people to participate in their local communities; offering rewarding and long-term careers to health and social care staff; or bringing together the NHS and local authorities to ensure people live independent and healthy lives.
However, the organisations warn that health and social care services are struggling to meet their statutory requirements to provide people with timely, safe, high-quality, and effective care and support. They highlight that the UK Government needs to provide immediate and long-term action to prevent the situation from worsening.
The statement reads: “We are pleased that the Government has gone some way to addressing the financial challenges on social care and health in the Autumn Statement by providing more resources over the medium-term to meet inflationary pressures.
“But this funding will not address the underlying gaps, market fragility and workforce pressures across health and social care.
“Neither does it provide sufficient long-term certainly for social care and health organisations to invest in different models of care which prevent ill health and promote wellbeing, resilience and independence.”
ADASS, NHS Confederation, and LGA also warn that efforts are too often focused on acute hospitals. They believe that working to maximise health and wellbeing and to keep people well and independent for as long as possible is just as important.
To make this shift a reality, the organisations are crying out for a “major reset” of the UK’s health and social care services and supports to prioritise prevention and promote independence.
The statement continues: “It is only by doing so that we will turn the growing tide of ill-health and dependence on acute and hospital services. So that when people need treatment, care and support, our responses are built around what matters most to the individual and enables them to live meaningful and independent lives.”
The organisations agree that all partners in the health and care system must focus first and foremost on promoting the health, wellbeing, and prosperity of people.
Their vision focuses on maximising health and wellbeing; preventing or delaying people from developing health and social care needs; redirecting resources, so that when people need treatment and short-term support, they are assisted to make as full a recovery as possible, restoring their health, wellbeing, and independence; and maximising independence and wellbeing for people with ongoing heath and/or social care needs by working with them to put in place the care and support that works for them.
LGA’s, ADASS’, and NHS Confederations’ three key asks of the UK Government to deliver on this vision are detailed below.
Invest in prevention and early intervention
The organisations are calling on the government to invest in prevention and early intervention by:
- Reinstating real-term increases to the public health grant at the level seen before the pandemic
- Incentivising integrated care systems (ICSs) to allocate resources according to deprivation in order to address health inequalities
- Investing to realise the benefits of social care as a service in its own right, rather than as an adjunct to the NHS
- Investing in care and support at home and community to avoid the need for institutional care, including promoting a full range of housing options to enable people to live in safe and appropriate accommodation
Create the ability to plan for the long-term
The organisations also want the government to create the ability to plan for the long term (prevention takes time but is much better for people and delivers much better value for money in the medium to long term).
This means investing in fully funded workforce plans, paid leave entitlements for carers, increasing prevention and support at home, recovery-focused services, and funding sustainability. Commissioners and providers need a medium-term funding settlement to contract for and invest in new prevention and recovery models.
Deliver a long-term, fully funded workforce plan that covers health and social care
ADASS, LGA, and NHS Confederation are finally asking the government to deliver a long-term, fully funded workforce plan that covers health and social care – including the public health workforce. They also request enhancing the contribution of the community and voluntary sector and of unpaid carers, without whom the care and support system would collapse.