Labour Party Health and Care Policy Review

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Andy Burnham MP

A New Agenda for Whole Person Care

I attended the meeting at Manchester Town Hall, 11th April 2013, where the speakers were Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of Health and Paul Foley, Head of Unison Health in the North West.

Andy Burnham was airing his ideas for a joint health & social care service if labour get back into government describing the idea as early stage but listed his main priority: Creating an NHS/Social Care service for 21st century and the “whole person”.  He quoted the World Health Organisation from 1948 of health being “A complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing”.

The meeting centred on the change of national health provision from 1948 when people suffered physical danger, disease and illness to to the current time.  A lot of the emphasis was on living longer and the need for more social care although he talked about all ages being included.

He criticised the separation of physical health needs, mental health needs and social care and talked about the need for an approach with care starting from the home.

In terms of funding his emphasis were Local Councils as lead commissioners and NHS as ‘preferred providers’ .  He was keen on services for both health and social care free at the point of access but lots of discussion then went on about best forms of payment.  He talked of “NHS preferred providers” and of reducing private providers but stopped short of NHS only providers and was keen to maintain voluntary and charity providers.

Paul Foley, from Unison North West Health spoke clearly about the need for adequate funding and services being provided on clinical evidence and funded by taxation (especially of the rich) to provider a “free at point of access health & social care service”.  He also emphasised the need for public provided services; not private, charity or voluntary.

A main concern was whether this would need another reconfiguration of the health service with reorganization after reorganization being pushed onto the health service.  There was some talk about working more closely together but without totally integrated services.  Personally I don’t think this type of service would be achievable under current structures although others disagreed on this.

I also asked Andy Burnham about Mental Health Service users – would a separate mental health service be maintained.  In politician style he reversed the question towards myself.  I stated that a “whole person agenda may help from anti-stigma perspective but funding and prioritizing of mental health would be a strong concern.

Caroline Ridgway