Correspondence between the BGS and Jeremy Hunt MP

16 August 2016

Following the BGS's letter to Mr Jeremy Hunt MP, he replied saying: "I remain committed to making this country a great place to grow old in...I welcome the specific points raised by..the British Geriatrics Society. I share your ambitions in these areas and I am pleased that we are actively considering all of the issues raised...

"Working with local partners to help develop better integration including promoting intermediate care models continues to be a priority for this Government. For example, a number of local health economies are already developing step-down care models and out-of-hospital care that enable reablement in a more suitable environment for the patient...

"We are working closely with Skills for Care to care workers develop the skills they need to support older care users. We are also ensuring that the care that individuals and their families receive is measured and strengthened through the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework."

Read the full reply here

BGS letter to Mr Hunt written on 15 July 2016 (download here in pdf format):

Dear Mr Hunt

We write firstly to offer congratulations on your re-appointment as Secretary of State for Health.  

We would also like to take this opportunity to set out the six key decisions that the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) is calling on Government to take to promote excellent healthcare and support for older people, based on our members’ direct daily experience of delivering healthcare to older people with complex health needs.

We recognise and welcome the strong commitment in place, through the NHS Five Year Forward View, to improving the quality of healthcare for older people.  As the professional membership body for consultant geriatricians, GPs with a special interest in the care of older people, nurses and allied health professionals, we are passionately committed to such improvement.  

We are therefore calling for:

  1. An end to the divide between health and social care.  BGS supports the recommendation by the King’s Fund’s independent commission chaired by Economist Kate Barker, that those whose needs are defined as ‘critical’ should receive free social care, and the divide between health and social care should end for those at the highest levels of need.
  2. Building greater capacity in intermediate care.  BGS calls on Government to increase its investment in building the capacity of those services which provide a link between home and acute hospital for older people who need rehabilitation, re-ablement, or sub-acute treatment.  We are aware that Government itself has highlighted this need, most recently through the recommendations by the CQC in its report published earlier this week, Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers.  We believe the development of and investment in intermediate care services is fundamental to reducing the number of delayed transfers from hospital to home.
  3. Investment in healthcare and social support for older people through sufficient funding to the NHS for achieving the goals of the Five Year Forward view, and to local authorities to enable them to meet their social care obligations, including those to older people.  We are especially mindful of the recent King’s Fund report (July 2016) on the current state of social care funding and provision.    
  4. National strategic direction on older people living with frailty, dementia, complex needs and multiple long-term conditions.  We call for access to comprehensive geriatric assessment, personalised care plans for treatment and long-term follow-up for all older people with frailty, dementia, complex and multiple long-term conditions.  These can only be provided consistently and effectively through ensuring that staffing is at a level which is adequate for delivery of that care and follow-up.
  5. Support staff across all care sectors to develop competencies in the management of older patients.  Requiring the regulatory and advisory bodies to incorporate competencies in the management of older people into their curricula, guidance, professional and quality standards is a key component in improving quality of healthcare for older people which requires further development.  
  6. Measurement of care to focus on what matters most to older people and their families.  We call for a national set of indicators and outcomes to strengthen the measurement of older people’s experience of care pathways, access to care and care outcomes and to ensure that what matters most to older people and their families is fully measured and improvements can be tracked over time.

We are aware of your keen interest in the care of older people, and your knowledge of intermediate care experienced first-hand through visits such as the one to Richmond House in Leeds.  We would be delighted if we could meet with you to discuss the shared aims that we have for the delivery of consistently excellent healthcare and support for older people.

With best wishes

Professor David Oliver
President, British Geriatrics Society

Dr Eileen Burns
President-Elect, British Geriatrics Society