Northamptonshire’s MPs have told the county’s health and council bosses that they need to come up with a radical plan to combine health and adult social care if they are going to attract more funds from government.
A model such as the one in Greater Manchester in which health and adult social care are provided by one organisation is being advocated by MPs who yesterday (June 27) met health and council leaders in Westminster to discuss the way out of the current crisis in which 900 patients are currently stranded in hospital beds.
The group had gone to the county’s MPs to pitch a more closer partnership working arrangement and asked for more funds, but the MPs have said this idea does not go far enough and more radical change is needed.
Speaking after the meeting Kettering MP Phillip Hollobone said the forthoming local government reorganisation in Northamptonshire is the perfect time to make the change.
He said: “What we have said to all the organisations is we are very impressed by the work that has taken place but if they are going to attract Government support they need to come up with a more radical organisational change.
“There is a sensible plan for a combined health and social care organisation that is more likely to atract more funding than to go simply go with what is being presented at the moment.
“MPs always ask for more money all the time, but to be effective in asking for more money from government you often need to go with something else. You need to go with proposal for organisation change or efficient improvements. Just asking for money does not work.”
The Kettering MP said there was opportunity to go for a pilot and become the first provincial area to create the kind of integrated health and social care model that is used in Greater Manchester.
The health and adult social care providers in the county are currently under severe financial pressure. Northamptonshire’s two clinical commissioning groups – which commission health services from the GPs, hospitals and mental health providers – only just managed to balance their books this April and had to raid their reserves to do so.
This week the county’s director of adult social care said that just three months into the financial year the department is already £6m over budget and savings in some services will need to be made to mitigate against that. High demand is being pointed to as the reason for the budgets being overspent.
After the meeting South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom issued a statement that said: “I hear regularly from constituents who are unhappy with the health and social care services they or their family members are accessing, despite the exceptional hard work that our GPs and health workers do to support us all.
“The problem is not really with the services themselves, but rather the fragmented way they are delivered across the county: local authorities providing some services, GPs and hospitals providing others. All with different ownership, reporting structures, and budgets. This can result in delay and difficulty for the individual patient or service user, with a well-known example of this being someone stuck in hospital because there is inadequate community support available.
“I have been working with Northants colleagues for many months to consider alternatives to how healthcare and social care is delivered.
“This will be transformative for people right across the county, meaning that there are clear lines of accountability for all aspects of health and social care and greater value for money in the system, giving patients the ability to transition much more easily from one area of health and social care to another to ensure they receive the best and most appropriate support.”
If the merger does go ahead that will mean that another of the local government’s major services – adult social care – will be partly taken out of the hands of the new unitary councils. Children’s services will be formed into an independent trust and not directly delivered by the new unitaries that are being set up in north and west. The cost of the reorganisation is estimated to be around £43m.