The new health and social care secretary has said social care budgets have been under more “intense pressure” than demands placed on the NHS and pledged £412m of technology funding for sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs).
In his first speech today since succeeding Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock said workforce, technology and prevention would be his early priorities.
He praised social care staff and pledged to improve their career opportunities, adding a consultation would be launched on “workforce issues” and a panel established of clinical and professional advisors from the health and social care workforce.
Mr Hancock said the £412m funding will be spent on “new technology in hospitals which make patients safer, make every pound go further and help more people access health services at home”.
He added the integration of the NHS and social care, as well as “wider services” in local government is vital to getting prevention right.
Mr Hancock called on the NHS and social care system to operate “In a spirit of collaboration, not competition, towards our common goal”.
He said pressures on the NHS have “ramped up year on year” and added: “And of course social care budgets have been under even more intense pressure.
“With demands rising, we must find a way to make health and care – by which I mean the whole health and social care system – sustainable for the long term.”
Responding to the speech, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board Izzi Seccombe (Con) said the extra funding for technology was “good news for the sector” but called councils to have a “significant input” in local decisions to ensure it is “focused on delivering on joint local priorities rather than simply NHS national priorities”.
She added: “It’s good to see the secretary of state’s focus on prevention which is the surest way to reduce hospital admissions and reduce pressures on the NHS and adult social care, which needs to be put on an equal footing with the health service.
“Reductions to public health budgets also need to be reversed to enable councils to continue to help people to live independently and well, which will help ease demands on the NHS and social care and save money for the public purse.”