latest health care news

14.04.16

Personalised care ‘completely depends’ on stable staffing, MPs told

Personalised social care is being held back in the health service by a lack of organisational understanding and staff shortages, MPs in the Public Accounts Committee were told yesterday.

Richard Lyle, community and partnerships programme director for Bristol CCG, said that although personalised care provided positive outcomes for service users, it created difficulties for local healthcare providers, especially about the cost of implementing it on a large scale.

“There’s a different approach to risk in health,” he said.

A report from the National Audit Office last month said the Department of Health needs to improve its understanding of personalised care.

In the same committee appearance David Pearson, director of adult social care at Nottinghamshire County Council, said “it’s not too fine a point to say that personalised care has transformed many people’s lives”, and that 80% of personalised care recipients said it led to a significant improvement in their care.

Pearson added that the UK was one of the first countries in the world to introduce personalised care and that more research was needed, which he said should be funded by the Department of Health.

Warning over ‘acute’ lack of appropriate staff

Lyle added that there was a need to recognise that “most care takes place outside the hospital now, in the community, and there is an issue around funding”, especially around the lack of a properly trained and managed staff supply.

“We’re completely dependent upon having a good, stable workforce to deliver any programme in health and social care, and that’s something that’s becoming a really acute problem at the moment, so all our plans always stop when we try and recruit and retain that workforce,” he said.

“It’s very boom and bust. At some times we’ve got a shortage, but at other times there’s been an oversupply in different types of care.”

He added that health providers should work with staff to fix staffing problems, saying: “I think, as a commissioner, it’s about listening to what people tell you, so things like length of contracts, paying people a fair amount for the work that you accept, giving them accesses to services that statutory services have – things like training and support’s really important, so you don’t create duplicate overheads.”

Integrated staff training is a ‘quick-fix win’

Nadra Ahmed, executive chair of the National Care Association, recommended sharing staff training between social and health care to improve services.

She said: “I think social care is the infrastructure that props up health very often, and I think we’re not recognised as that. I sit there and listen and listen every time there’s the health secretary or shadow health secretary making a speech to have the mention of social care and very rarely do I get it coming out.

“Privately we get told by lots of commissioners ‘we should be doing more but we don’t have the money’, so let’s have that honest discussion and debate about the money and then the Treasury needs to reflect that. The training money is really important.

“If we could get appropriately trained staff, we could share that. That’s a real quick-fix win. If we could get local authorities and health providers working together to have a properly trained service, the winners are the service users, because they will have a consistent service.”

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