Stuck in the Health and Social Care Bill tea party

Not long ago I did a conference presentation on the Health and Social Care Bill. To make an after-lunch slot a little less soporific I dusted off my White Rabbit and gave the whole session an Alice and Wonderland theme. Curiouser and curiouser, I said, and 3 months on, we’re still stuck. Not going forwards, no going back.  Round and round, consultation after consultation, debate after debate, and still no sign of the tea party being over.  Another cream bun anyone?

Whatever your take on the Health and Social Care Bill, I think the one thing we can all be sure of is that the hiatus that’s occurred within NHS structures isn’t helping anyone.  Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t plough ahead with proposals which are likely to make things worse rather than better. Personally I think tweaking the old system with better clinical involvement would have done the job. It wasn’t perfect but it did work. Instead,  what has happened is that  in advance of decisions being made, the system has effectively been dismantled and elements of the new one put in place, with no legislative mandate to do so. Maybe I’m old fashioned but I kinda think you should wait till Parliament has made the decision before you implement it.

I’ve got no problem with involving GPs more in commissioning. Some of my friends are GPs even. But they don’t always have carers right at the top of their agenda. That’s why the Government has worked with us, the Royal College of GPs and Carers UK on a programme to ensure GPs are more carer aware.* Across the country,  Carers Centres and Crossroads schemes work extensively with GPs in their areas, constantly  reinforcing the message about supporting carers.  All GPs need to do is think carer – identify and refer.  But often the carer is sitting there, right in front of them, struggling,  and still it doesn’t occur to them that they could be the lifeline to support.

The other worry I have is that in the shift from the  old NHS structures to the new ones, and the inevitable change in commissioners and staff, all the progress we’ve made on making sure support for carers is prioritised might be lost. The Government has listened to us on this issue, and so have many Primary Care Trust and local authority commissioners, but it’s still not enough and we don’t need any backsliding.

Who knows what’s going to happen now, with more and more health professions rattling their stethoscopes , it could be a while before we know the final shape of the new NHS.  It could get curiouser yet. However, for carers and those they care for, life goes on regardless, whatever the commissioning structures turn out to be.  If we need to start the debate on why we need to support carers all over again, we will. We just shouldn’t have to.


PS: If you read my blog 2 weeks ago, you’ll see that a carer asked that I mention the Carers Ambassador programme  in England where carers can get involved in their local area  raising awareness of  carers issues. If you’d like to find out more about this, contact the project manager Michael on


February 15, 2012 - Posted by | Health, Social Care, Uncategorized | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Whilst carers remain a soft touch , it is not surprising that innovative schemes such as the Carers Flag Scheme ( as proposed by the PRT a decade ago ) remain wishful thinking..

    The only way forward in today’s Sad New World is for positive action to be taken , first at local level , and then , if successful , taken nationally.

    Once small step springs to mind. All carers in one area elect to call their caree’s gp / nurse in rather than having to take said caree to the practice. Obviously , more time and energy expended by the medical profession but , given the likely numbers involved , the effect on some practices may well cause swift changes for the benefit of both carers and carees.

    After all , gps and nurses are paid well to look after their patients , why should carers help
    subsidise them through their own labours ?

    Carers care …. but who cares for the carer ?

    Comment by Stephen Knight | February 16, 2012 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: