Plaid Cymru has launched a radical vision for the shakeup of Health and Social Services. Shadow Health Minister and Ceredigion AM Elin Jones has launched a paper which consults on the best way to bring about a much-needed alignment of Health and Social Care.
The paper outlines two options to merge Health and Social Services in order to deliver long-term sustainable services for the future. The current model, which often sees two separate systems of Health and Social Services in conflict over areas of financial responsibility, has received criticism by many.
One of the models proposed in the paper is to scrap Local Health Boards such as Hywel Dda and replace them with one National Hospital Board to deliver secondary and specialist care. Local Authorities would be given the responsibility to deliver primary care and community health services.
The other option presented in the paper is to bring adult social care services under the responsibility of the seven Local Health Boards.
Elin Jones said:
“These proposals are about streamlining the system so that we have a much more dynamic service.
“It’s clear that the current model of Health and Social Care is too cumbersome. There are too many boundaries in the system that cause unnecessary bureaucracy which delays the transfer of patients throughout their recovery process. As a result, there are blockages in the system that cost us time and money.
“That’s why I want to bring health and social care closer together so that we can reduce these unnecessary boundaries. An integrated Health and Social Care system, which invests in the right kind of services to keep people out of hospital and allow them to live independently, is a priority if we are to make the nation healthier.
“Piecemeal reform, as is proposed by the Welsh Government, is short-sighted and will, ultimately, end in centralisation, and areas such as Ceredigion losing out. Planning specialist services on an all-Wales basis rather than in seven regions could lead to a more integrated approach which takes heed of the particular problems of rural mid-Wales.
“The time has come to work more smartly, more collaboratively and put the needs of patients first. This can only be achieved through the creation of a new National Health and Social Care service.
“The Party of Wales has proposed two ways for the delivery of an improved system. One option that I am proposing would see the existing seven Local Health Boards scrapped and replaced with one National Hospital Board that would deliver acute specialist and hospital services. Under this model, primary and community health would be delivered alongside social services by local authorities. Another option that we are proposing is for the delivery of Adult Social Care Services to become the responsibility of Local Health Boards. In this case I would want to see LHBs be made more democratic and accountable.
“We would invite anyone with an interest in our health service and its future to contribute to the debate.”