15th June, 2015
Community Care vital to future of NHS
The pressure is on and has been for some time. Hospital wards at bursting point. Queues at A&E. Unfilled vacancies. Increased working hours. These are all symptoms of an NHS that is in poor health.
Last week in Parliament, there was consensus that there should be a full public debate on the future of Scotland’s National Health Service, to ensure that it adapts and evolves to meet the changing nature and scale of demand that is being placed upon it.
This consensus followed a call made by the Royal College of Nursing a few days earlier for such a debate and my motion in Parliament supporting this call.
The challenge will be to engage everyone in this debate including patients, families, carers and professionals at all levels. The Cabinet Secretary for Health Shona Robison, indicated that she wanted the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee which I convene to assist in meeting this challenge, and I am confident we will help ensure the widest possible participation.
In the coming months there needs to be recognition that we must do far more to ensure that more people are cared for in the community close to home or in a homely setting. Good care in the community reduces the risk of people being admitted to hospital and will ease the build-up in our A&E departments.
Protecting the NHS budget is of course of crucial importance, but we also need to ensure that the social care sector is properly funded to help shift the balance of care into the community.
Ultimately, rather than looking at the issues in isolation, we need to look at the whole system if we are to improve the health of our NHS. Patients and staff deserve nothing less.