This article is from Alison's weekly column for the Wirral News. This post is from 15th January and can be read on the Wirral News website here.
I know many people in Wirral will be conscious of the difficulties our local A&Es have faced over the winter months.
But whilst we need to make sure that our NHS hospital facilities are the absolute best they can be, surely these problems are the symptom, rather than the cause?
So where should we look to identify the root of these problems? I think the reason for seeing more older, unwell people needing hospital care is because we aren’t always able to do the small, preventative things that help people live independently and stay well.
Since coming to power, the Tories have made massive cuts to local councils across the country. One of the most significant services that a local council provides is support for adult social care.
As it is the biggest spending area for local councils, social care has been cut by £1.8 billion across the country since the Tories came to power in 2010, affecting the most vulnerable in our communities such as those with learning difficulties and older people.
The government cuts to local councils’ budgets for social care is short-sighted, as it only adds to pressure on services in other areas such as the NHS, where the costs are higher.
It’s no good expecting A&E to be able to cope, if local councils keep having to withdraw the day to day support that keeps people able to look after themselves.
Due to lack of appropriate care at home and in the community increasing numbers of older people end up in hospital unnecessarily. Shockingly, there has been a 66 per cent increase in the number of people aged over 90 going into A&E via blue-light ambulance.
There is a crisis in social care in this country that the government must face up to and stop burying its head in the sand. Labour is calling on the government to use £700m from this year’s NHS under-spend to help tackle this immediate crisis.
Going forward, we are drawing up plans for our manifesto for the general election next year, for ‘whole person care’. This would see the integration of the NHS and social care, helping to raise care standards and deliver better value for money too.
It would stop arbitrary divisions between different organisations, and make all work together to look after the whole of a person’s needs, saving money, and doing a better job to care.