Integrating health and social care

I caught a brief news item on this morning’s Today programme pointing to a speech that Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham is expected to make introducing the idea of combined NHS and social care budgets in England. This is interesting, particularly if it develops into proposals Labour puts into its next election manifesto.

The fragmentation of health and social care is a problem. NHS organisations and local authorities have to work together, but have different obligations, priorities and funding. Accountability arrangements differ, and geographical boundaries are often not shared. Variations exist in models of commissioning and providing services.

These are hardly new observations. Years ago I wrote about the problem of fragmented community mental health services, and more recently have argued that the separation of agency responsibilities is one of the reasons the mental health system is so complex. It also contributes to the proliferation of wicked problems.

So, Andy Burnham: let’s hear what you have to say.

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