Social services is no longer the “poor relation” of health
services, and the government is now relying on social care to put
its extra Budget cash to work and help deliver a better NHS,
writes Janet Snell.
That was the message from health secretary Alan Milburn, who
told the Royal College of Nursing annual congress in Harrogate that
the problems of hospitals could not be solved solely in
He said: “Tackling waiting in accident and emergency and the
outpatient departments of course requires more staff and new
equipment. But it requires better help and more support in the
community, in primary care and in social services.”
He said that thanks to the Budget, social services would be able
to extend by a third the number of old people with access to
rehabilitation. “There will be extra resources to stabilise the
home care market and to buy more care home beds. And we can now set
ourselves the objective, not just of giving older people a choice
of care in a care home, but of increasing the number of people who
can be cared for in the their own homes.”
Milburn received a warm reception from the nurses after offering
them a package amounting to increased responsibility, and a pledge
that if they do more they will be paid more.
He said he believed the future for health and social care was
now a bright one thanks to plans to fund services over five years
instead of just one.
“Years of failure to invest in the past are now being replaced
with years of investment for the future, and the same is true of
social care. For too long nurses know social services have been the
poor relation of health services. But health and social services
are two sides of the same coin. They both rely on each other. Older
people rely on both,” he said.