Health priorities for a new parliament

08 July 2015

The King's Fund and All-Party Parliamentary Health Group has published a collection of essays mapping out health priorities for the next parliament as seen from the perspective of key stakeholders in the world of health. Included among the essays is one from Professor David Oliver, calling for the transformation of services for older people in which he says:

Older people, especially those with long-term conditions and complex needs, account for the biggest proportion of spending across health and social care services, as well as the largest amount of activity, variation in care and service ineffciencies. The challenges of rising demand, growing costs and restricted funding cannot be met without making our services more accepting of the needs of older people. Despite using multiple services and seeing a variety of healthcare professionals, both older people and their carers describe fragmented and poorly-coordinated services. There are still too many instances of care which is undignifed, depersonalising or characterised by age-related discrimination. 

The big policy challenges, and ones which the new Government must heed, include: greater focus on prevention and wellbeing; a large enough workforce with the right skills and training;a better balance in primary, community and home-based services in order to help people live comfortably at home; proper acknowledgement of the impact of social care funding on older people and other health services; and an approach that makes more use of non-clinical support, such as carers and the community and voluntary sectors. Above all, better care planning and integration across health and social care are needed to help deliver what National Voices have rightly termed ‘person-centred, coordinated care’. People have a right to services that ft around their particular requirements, including their age, so we can move away from stories of inadequate and suboptimal care.