NHS and social care: “Need to get the basics right” says SAM past president

Following today’s Queen’s Speech (11 May), which outlined additional funding to support the NHS and proposals on social care reform, Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: 

“Although we of course welcome additional funding for the NHS, my concern with these statements from the government is that we have been there and heard it all before – the detail is always to follow but it often doesn’t.

“If we take social care, SAM has been raising this crisis consistently since 2016 when we have stated very clearly the impact on patients and the NHS through the inability to discharge.

“The knock-on effect through “exit block” – when patients are unable to be moved on from acute medical units and emergency departments due to capacity issues – can seriously impede the delivery of timely and necessary care.

“When we hear proposals will be “brought forward” to tackle this, it leaves you with little confidence when years have passed by with lack of action ultimately contributing to the significant pressures on the health system.

“In much the same way we hear more commitments to funding and a drive for innovation in the NHS, but we have often not been able to get the basics right – renovating ageing estates, retaining and recruiting staff and, as mentioned, sorting out dire social care provision.

“My hope is the government uses the time it has bought itself to deliver these plans to seriously reconsider the focus of where it needs to take action and how it is actually going to do this to deliver to the areas of greatest need and not those who might ‘shout loudest’.

“We will continue to work with NHS England and other agencies constructively to achieve these aims and will share our views with the prime minister and health secretary over these matters until they are addressed with us properly.”