Responding to Jeremy Hunt's speech yesterday, which included calls for a social contract between public, health and care services and an announcement that the indicative cost of medicines will be published on packs of medicines costing more than £20, Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
"It is refreshing to see a genuine focus from the Secretary of State on prevention, public health and changing the relationship between people and services. This is essential in the 21st century, when our population is changing. By 2025, 18 million people in England will have at least one long-term condition and many will have three or more. We should find ways of ensuring they are able to live full and happy lives."
On labelling of medicines
"We think it's important for the public to be better informed about how money is spent in the NHS. Polling we commissioned from YouGov about the public's views on the NHS found that less than half (40%) of people thought they had enough knowledge to contribute to an open debate about the future of the NHS. Of those who said they don't feel they have the necessary information to contribute to an open debate about the future of the NHS, 74 per cent said that to do so, they would need more information on how the NHS is funded and how money is spent. We will be interested in seeing more detail about how the labelling policy will be implemented."
"Supported self-management is a great way to improve services and to help people for whom a condition is a daily reality. Ninety six per cent of our members in a recent survey told us it is important for the Government to focus on engaging people more in their own care. In doing so, they recognise it is a partnership and that organisations also need to make practical and cultural changes to be able to effectively support people to manage their own care. We want to see a national sector-led programme to support health and social care organisations to adopt participation and self-management approaches so patients can benefit.
"It is also right that the Secretary of State recognises the hugely valuable work done by volunteers and carers, caring for older people. They are a part of the team and need to be engaged too."
On social issues such as loneliness
"We know social issues such as loneliness and isolation are often a contributing factor to elderly people being admitted to and staying in hospital, highlighting the real need to do more to prevent isolation and loneliness. We urge the Secretary of State to encourage and support locally-developed schemes. Earlier this year we set up a Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older people and are seeking patient-centred solutions to address the challenges of caring for the frail elderly across the country."
On the Better Care Fund
"Integrating health and social care meets peoples' needs and our members recognise it is important to have appropriate metrics to evaluate the progress made by introducing policies such as the Better Care Fund. Equally, it is important to recognise that integration is not an 'end' in itself and the metrics used need to properly reflect the underlying aspiration of integration, to improve care for patients. It is also unlikely that greater integration alone can address the funding issues facing some local health and social care economies. Without adequate funding for local authorities, many of the preventative, social care based services to prevent elderly people from becoming isolated and supporting them to maintain their health outside of hospitals may not be able to function properly in the future.
A transcript of Jeremy Hunt's speech is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/personal-responsibility.