The news that the health and social care budgets in Manchester are to be integrated is a massive step forward for better health and well-being there - and a beacon for the rest of the country.
When I wrote the Winterbourne View report I recommended that budgets for health and care for people with learning disabilities must be combined. This move in Manchester will enable better planning and commissioning that ensures community placements, not placements in institutions. Interestingly, the figures on the use of institutions show that the North uses institutions for people with learning disabilities significantly more than the rest of the country. Often councils have block contracts with institutions like Calderstones in Lancashire, and it is too easy for them to use those places than make proper provision in the community. And shockingly these cost up to £12,000 a week. Community places are both more cost effective and better care. The move in Manchester and the decision by NHS England to close institutions like Calderstones are welcome.
I had lunch with the pioneering journalist Marie Woolf of the Sunday times this week. She has written many stories on the abuses and problems that confront people with learning disability or autism and told me some shocking stories of abuse in institutions. Some of these come from whistleblowers- the recent report from Sir Robert Francis will hopefully encourage more whistleblowing and help spell the end of institutional care for people with learning disability.
Fascinating to read the reactions to the Manchester announcement. The most surprising was from the Kings Fund which has for years argued how important it was to integrate health and social care, and yet gave a very negative response pouring cold water on a what is an extraordinarily important move to do exactly that. What we now need is to see this followed through for the rest of the country. Starting with London!
The great Bishop Harries, defender of charities’ right to campaign, was on "Thought for the Day" this morning making the very interesting point that this move is very much in line with Catholic social teaching which argues the principle of subsidiarity; where decisions are made at the lowest appropriate level. The Manchester decision is a great example of that. So when you have the blessing of the Church then this has to be a good move!
Charity leaders know from experience on the ground how difficult it is to get effective support for people from the health service and from councils. It is often not remotely joined up, and is beset by arguments over money and actions based on system and process not the individual.
So acevo is going to organise a workshop for our members to hear from the key Manchester leaders in charge of this move to integration. We should give this full support. And we will be talking about it at our National Health and Social Care Conference on Tuesday. This will be the first opportunity to hear from Jeremy Hunt and Andy Burnham on these plans. Indeed the BBC are going to be filming the whole event. Still time to sign up! You can even come as my guest if you respond to this Blog!
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