Across England, our social care services are in crisis. With an ageing population, and an ever increasing number of people living with complex medical needs, the system introduced by the reforming Attlee Labour Government after the Second World War is creaking at the seams.
Indeed, much of the financial pressure facing local councils across England, is because central government funding for ‘people-based’ services (adult social care and children’s services) haven’t kept pace with increasing numbers, and increasing demand. The Tory-led Local Government Association confirms this, pointing to a massive £3.1 billion funding black hole this year, which if left unaddressed, will balloon into an unsustainable £8bn gap by 2025.
But the same is true with our National Health Service. Unless there is a real cash injection, keeping in pace with health inflation, then many of the services we rely on will fall into real crisis. And it’s true here in Stockport, too. That’s why I back the approach of Stockport Council to get to a point of real health and social care integration. It has cross-party support on Stockport Council because it makes sense.
You see, one of the (few) benefits of representing a cross-borough parliamentary constituency, is that you experience different decisions being made in the other part. Tameside is well on with health and social care integration; so much so that the Council has effectively taken over the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (the Council’s Chief Executive is the Chief Operating Officer of Tameside and Glossop CCG) and, working in close collaboration with the hospital, they’ve designed a single health and care service for the borough in the public sector. And it works.
So I support Stockport doing something similar. It won’t be exactly the same, because the two boroughs are very different, and the organisations working together are very different too. But integration around a public health and care service, more accountable to locally elected representatives can work in Stockport too. And what we do know is the status quo is unsustainable – for the Council, for the hospital and for the CCG.