We know health and social care services are under extreme pressure. Managers and local authorities have struggled to achieve meaningful integration of health and social care. As a result, patients face unnecessary hospital admissions and prolonged stays in hospital, and we see duplication and waste across health and social care services.
Also it is inevitable that over time the needs of local communities change and the methods used to treat people evolve.
We know that:
- Medical professionals are able to treat an increasing range of illnesses and conditions and help us live longer
- We are living longer but often with complex health and social care needs
- Community-based services are able to diagnose more illnesses and conditions than previously and more quickly
- Increasingly a wide range of professionals are involved in a patient's care and wellbeing including the police, voluntary organisations, mental health workers and even social landlords.
- Medical technology is advancing rapidly meaning that more people can be treated closer to home and manage their own condition better
- Technology allows remote access to medical expertise but we continue to travel for check-ups etc
- Recruiting and retaining care and support workers is increasingly challenging
- There are people in urgent care today that do not need to be and a hospital bed is not the best place for them - other patients are not accessing the care they need when they need it as a result
- There are not enough suitable beds available in the community in West Cornwall
- Local pharmacists, GPs, and other primary care providers are able to understand and manage a patient's care. They want to do more and want to be allowed to work closer together
For these reasons, and because it is right that we consider how health and social care services could and should be integrated in Cornwall and on Scilly, the drawing up of a sustainability and transformation plan is a sensible process to undertake.
Regarding the STP itself:
The Sustainability and Transformation Plan, intended to show how health and care services will be built around the needs of local populations, will be flawed unless the STP team properly consult local health professionals, social care providers and the local community.
The STP must enable the meaningful integration of health and care services to happen. Otherwise, it is not worth the paper it is written on.
Whilst NHS funding for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has increased and is planned to increase over coming years it has not kept up with the demand. The subsequent debt of the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust seriously compromises their ability to deliver the services we need and put patient care at the centre of plans to integrate services. I have requested and secured a meeting on Monday with the Chancellor to discuss with him the need to provide extra money to fund the transformation to integrated services and in recognition of the added costs of delivering health and social care services in Cornwall and on Scilly.