Monday, 14 September 2015

Integration of social and health services: a must!

King's Fund, through this tweet, offers us access to an interim report of an independent commission that is working for the unification of the social and health services for complex chronic patients and patients with disabling degenerative processes. The report's proposal is clear: one organization and one budget with the aim of promoting access to social and health services tailored to the needs.

According to the Commission, in the UK, with regard to chronic disease care, there’s a misuse due to different barriers to access to services, with little public money on social services and waste in health services. The question is whether it’s possible to redistribute public funds to meet the real needs of this ever-growing population group.

The proposals that the Commission is exploring are diverse, and it’s believed they will have to activate them all: a) reorienting health resources wasted on unnecessary hospitalizations is a priority, although the Commission believes that it will not be enough; b) avoiding therapeutic obstinacy towards the end of life; c) adjusting community services to the real people’s needs;  d) increase the productivity of social and health services, after being integrated; e) raise more public and private resources; f) encourage more volunteering and third sector support.

If you have three minutes, I advise you to watch this video where Michelle Mitchell, Director of Multiple Sclerosis Society is reviewing the interim report of the Commission. I’ll highlight four of Mrs. Mitchell’s ideas:

a) People with degenerative diseases need services tailored to their problems, and the current, fragmented system is far from achieving this goal.
b) The integration of services is important, but it’s necessary that social services have more money.
c) The first priority is to solve the problems that our patients are facing on a daily basis and help them avoid having to go back and forth.
d) There is enough room for volunteering, not as a solution to the current mess, but as a professional integrated support service.

If we are spending huge amounts of resources in fragmented and disproportionate actions, now it’s time to invest our efforts in coordination, integration and alignment of goals, but also in restructuring and seeking new sources of funding and volunteering; undoubtedly,  an important project so we must not get sidetracked.

Jordi Varela 

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