Tuesday 5 April 2011

Health reform

Our third sector plays a huge role in the provision of health and social care, in promoting better health outcomes, in research and promotion and advocacy.
It's one of the historic roles for our country's charities; just look at Guys and St Thomas' in London or St James in Leeds. Great hospitals that began their life as charities.

The Lansley reforms could see a growing and welcome increase in third sector involvement in health service delivery. Indeed I believe without that growth the NHS cannot continue to provide the services we need.

It's one of ACEVO's biggest membership areas and so the current health reforms are a major issue for the sector. I believe that the time for reform is now, and whilst further debate is now being encouraged we cannot ignore the need for reform.

Increasing sums are being spent on long term conditions ( already the biggest portion of the whole budget) ; yet our health service is ill equipped in handling the services needed to prevent further increases. Many people with long term conditions need support and advice in the management of their conditions but the health service is often not best equipped to do this.

Look at the example of diabetes. People with type 2 need support on exercise and diet, life style management, on best methods to manage the condition to prevent early onset of Type 1 insulin dependence. So organisations like the magnificent Diabetes UK should be resourced and empowered to lead this fight. Not doctors.

We have a service that is still often unresponsive to patients and where the voice of patients or communities is weak and often ignored. That is where many health charities began their journey; in demanding a better voice for people with disabilities, with mental health problems, with long term conditions. Andrew Lansley's " no decision about me without me" is noble aim and one we strongly support.

The concept of " any willing provider" enshrines the idea that what matters to patients is what is delivered, not who delivers the service. I believe this offers a strong avenue for our sector to increase its role in delivery, in innovation and advocacy .

Of course a reform as radical as proposed ( and indeed as complicated )raises real issues of concern and so a period of further consultation must be welcome. But reform is needed. Along with others I've been asked to a No 10 round table next week to discuss to discuss the greater involvement of social enterprises and the voluntary and community sector in the delivery of NHS services.

I welcome this. And I shall argue reform offers us huge opportunities and we must work with the DH to ensure that reform delivers that. This is not about privatisation, as often portrayed in the media .

We are in active discussion with DH about how the sector can increase its role for the future and we are also about to start a project with ippr looking at practical ways to get GP commissioners and third sector organisations working together on the design and delivery of services. By bringing GPs and third sector leaders together over the next few months we’re hoping this will result in practical new work emerging between the GP consortia and ACEVO members.

1 comment:

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