NHS and Social Care Commission

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:37 pm on 28th January 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Labour, Don Valley 2:37 pm, 28th January 2016

It is a pleasure to follow Maria Caulfield. We have heard from a few doctors this afternoon, so it has been good to hear the perspective of someone who worked as a nurse in the NHS. Judging by her comments this afternoon, I am sure that she keeps closely in touch with it.

I agree with the hon. Lady that much good work is being done in different parts of the UK on providing health and social care. However, we also know from the data and outcomes that that is not uniform. Some doctors, nurses and other health professionals are willing to rise to the challenge of putting public health on the same standing as treatment and of providing innovation in mental health services. Like all professions, however, it contains some who are not so willing to embrace change. They might, for different reasons, be stuck in a way of working that is not providing the outcomes that their patients want.

The hon. Lady rightly cited the example of people in our communities who need social care services and who are getting three, four or five visits a day from different people, all of whom feel that they have a role in providing for those individuals. When I listened to her telling that to the House, it took me back about eight years to when I went out shadowing some community matrons in my constituency. I spent time going out on the rounds with them and finding out what they did. The post of community matron was created to provide better links between hospitals and the support in the community. Each of them had a caseload of patients, all of whom had to have five or more conditions that were preventing them from getting the most out of their daily lives. Some of them were pensioners; some were not. Those women—the people I shadowed in my constituency were all women—formed the link between what was happening in the GP surgery and what was happening in hospital. If one of their patients had a fall, for example, and ended up in A&E, the people in A&E would look to see who their community matron was and get on the phone to them. Before the patient had even had their treatment in hospital, the hospital would be working with the community matron to arrange how they would be looked after outside. Sadly, all these years later, those community matrons no longer exist. We have to address the fact that some good ideas start off in the NHS but are gone in some years, for whatever reason, perhaps because they are used as political footballs.

Today’s motion is not about stopping the good things that are happening. A commission would not paralyse us and stop us continuing the good work in the NHS and the good parts of the forward view. When it comes to health and social services, five years is the blink of an eye. We need to be thinking about not just 10 but 20, 30 or 40 years down the road. What can we do today to determine what NHS and social care should look like in 50 years? That is the big challenge before us and it is why a commission would enable us to take some of the politics out of the debate and allow us to move forward together.