Health and social care budgets should be pooled for whole-person care according to Labour’s vision for the NHS.
Speaking at the launch of the party’s health and care policy review shadow health minister Andy Burnham said that a Labour government would not scrap clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), but deliver change through existing structures.
“We could get much better results for people, and much more for the £104 billion we spend on the NHS and the £15 billion on social care, but only if we turn this system on its head,” he said.
He said that as part of their consultation, launched yesterday, councils could take a “prominent role” in commissioning care with a single budget.
“Health and Well-Being Boards could come to the fore, with CCGs supporting them with technical advice” he said.
He also reiterated that Labour would seek to repeal the Health and Social Care bill to remove any qualified provider in favour of NHS preferred providers.
Shadow minister for care and older people Liz Kendall will lead the review consultation which will last six months and ask the public if health and social care should be integrated and how it should be funded.
Burnham’s vision of whole-person care has been described as the “ideal system” by Dr James Kingsland.
The National Clinical Commissioning Community lead said: “If we implement this system, it could reduce bureaucracy and create a service shaped around the patient’s needs. I think the ideal is absolutely sound.”
However, he added: “It would be a huge task to rethink how care services are integrated. Inevitably it would take a lot of money, time and restructuring.”
Dr Michael Dixon NHS Clinical Commissioners president said: “At a time when the clear direction of travel is to move services away from secondary care, we believe that locating commissioning with primary care is the right place.
“We fully support putting the individual at the centre and NHS Clinical Commissioners would be concerned about any moves that undermined the link between patient and commissioner.”
Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said: “We fully support the move from acute to community services, enabling more people to be cared for at home and at the same time easing the strain on hospitals.
“However, this requires significant investment, which is not currently happening.”