I am a strong advocate for the integration of health and social care. However, currently our system does not work for the individual, is disjointed and inconsistent. My biggest concern as a local councillor would be STPs, or sustainability and transformation plans, and their impact on health and social care budgets, as the NHS attempts to close a £22bn gap in it's budgets by 2021. I agree with place based planning, and integration of social care, but not if it results in the underfunding of our stretched NHS and Councils, and doesn't give the front line staff the ownership over preventative healthcare.
Today I met with Billy, who works for national charity HFT and have their head office in Emerson's green. We discussed a wide range of issues related to social care, from sleeping shifts through to the support for those with learning difficulties, who often do not get the same prioritisation as other social care groups.
In 2008, Labour appointed a Minister for Social care - a position that was subsequently removed in the Conservative's July 2016 reshuffle. For many in the sector, there are concerns that this devalued or reprioritised our social care nationally - and too often the conversation is concentrated on those who are elderly, leaving those with life long care needs, forgotten.
I echo and agree with Billy's words - social care should follow a patient and should be outcome based. The tories are failing the social care sector, council's and patients - and with their manifesto pledges, or dementia tax, they plan to penalise those who happen to suffer longer. Those with learning disabilities or brain injuries will end up worse off again, as they could have an onset of dementia in their 40s or 50s.
I would challenge the removal of this ministerial post, and suggest that health and social care needs to be prioritised and integrated, but not at the detriment to social care. Labour pledges to do this by creating a National Care service, to adopt the Ethical care charter, ensuring individuals and carers are valued.
Providing care for our elderly and those with learning disabilities, without punishing those in need, should be a priority in this election. You can find out more via Labour's manifesto here.