Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, recently warned that hospitals had been tolerating financial waste for far too long. Now the NHS faces having to close hospitals, cut treatments and make patients waiting times longer in order to save £22billion by 2020.
Local Authorities are also facing a time of unparalleled austerity which it is believed will continue until at least 2018/19. Many people will be disadvantaged by the Government's Care Act legislation which is bringing substantial changes to social care.
Two financial changes in particular will affect how care is to be funded. The first will be adding a lifetime cap on a person’s own care cost contribution. The lifetime financial cap is to be set at £72,000. The second to be implemented after 2020, will bring changes to the means testing of personal savings. By raising the savings upper limit to £118,000 and the lower limit to £17,000.
There are even deeper cuts to adult social care packages planned as Local Authority budgets continue to drop dramatically. Whilst we fear that such cuts may in the long term be a false economy, we as a support provider, can only operate within the Commissioners budgets.
Local Councils are now increasingly becoming commissioning authorities – with a much greater focus on ‘outcomes’ and much less focus on the ‘process’ or the ‘method’ used to deliver services. Placing the customer at the heart of service delivery, integrating and redesigning health and social care services around the customers and support functions. Delivering transformational change through better and more consistent support commissioning, development, delivery and accountability.
We appreciate that the need to transform is not solely driven by Government budgets cuts but also by:
- Changing demographics as life expectancy increases
- A rapidly evolving society with shifting expectations and communities that are facing huge cultural upheavals
- Online communications which drive rapidly expanding customer expectations from the advances in technology and in the ways people form social relationships
- Globalisation which is dramatically affecting local economies who are no longer as stable as they once were but are increasingly shaped by the growth of emerging economies
- Reduced financial resources mean that local governments are facing permanent reductions in their budgets
- A burgeoning ‘green’ awareness requires balancing economic growth with environmental concerns which affect us all
Each and all of these challenges create enormous pressure on service provision.
These factors alone call for all stakeholders to take up the gauntlet of “Facing the Challenge” by working together. Only in this way can care and support services transform how we; commission, develop and deliver support both now and in the future.
If we fail to do that we could create an even more unbearable future for our health and social care. One which could undo all the valuable lessons we have learnt over the past decades.
We must remember that we are all ‘caretakers’ responsible for creating our future health and social care provision and we can only do that successfully by working together.
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