Pledge to Close the Health and Care Gap

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2013 National Retired Members Conference
6 June 2013

NHS and Local Government leaders have announced a shared commitment to ‘close the gap’ between the health and care systems. A series of pilot projects will begin in the autumn of 2013 to explore new ways of pooling budgets, speeding up discharge from hospital and conducting assessments. This initiative is to be welcomed – if it can be shown to improve the experiences of older people and their families and carers. It is predominantly older people – especially those with multiple long-term conditions – who find themselves victims of the overall failure of successive governments to recognise and plan for the needs of a growing elderly population. We hear reports of the manifestations of this failure nearly every day, and Age UK – using government statistics – has measured the size and extent of some of the problems. They illustrate a growing disconnection between the health and social care systems – something that many older people, their families and their carers know only too well.

With Local Government facing further cuts and the NHS struggling to run A&E Departments and meet even basic standards of dignity and care, these pilot projects are a big challenge.

This Conference urges the National Retired Members Committee and the National Executive Council to work constructively with the Department of Health, the NHS, the Local Government Association and Directors of Social Care – together with Age UK, the NPC and other relevant organisations – to demonstrate that health and care services can work together to meet the needs of older and vulnerable people, whilst fully supporting good employment conditions and relevant training for staff in these services. The pilot projects are a first step. A properly-funded, well-staffed, National Health and Care Service – centred on the person and their family and carers – must be our goal.