The regional election results could exacerbate increasing health and social care policy differences between England, Scotland and Wales, a social care policy expert has warned.
Professor Jon Glasby, director of the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham, said: “We’ve had growing divergence between the different parts of the UK and the more it continues the more it creates differences to compare and contrast what works.”
The results clearly show that the Scottish National Party has an overall majority in the Scottish parliament and Labour are poised to win an overall majority in Wales. Both countries have very different social care policies to those followed in England.
In Scotland the SNP’s plans to set up “lead commissioning” arrangements for health and adult social care could take off, under which either the NHS or local authorities would take responsibility for both services in each area.
In Wales, a majority Labour administration, would contiue to develop a de facto national care service.
However, England has been aggressively pursuing its own policies, including the introduction of personal budgets in adults’ services. In addition, children’s services departments are combining education and social care functions, and the Health and Social Care Bill sets out a system of GP commissioning of health services. Overarching all these reforms, the government at Westminster has stressed the need to outsource many aspects of both adults and children’s social care.
Glasby warned that the growing differences could lead to a review at the funding formula for the nations – the so-called Barnet formula – in which the amounts of public expenditure allocated to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are adjusted automatically to reflect changes in spending levels allocated to public services in England or Great Britain, as appropriate.
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