Policy Report - Autumn 2018

Caroline Cooke

In this update I have highlighted some new BGS policy publications. Linking into the work that Government are doing in developing their long term plans for the NHS, we have set out our own position on the issues that are BGS priorities for improving the health care of older people. 

You will see that the recurring themes in each of our publications are about the need for cross-service continuity and collaboration across specialties and professions, and the ways in which current barriers are being overcome. I also refer to our engagement with parliamentarians at Labour and Conservative Party Conferences where we were able to put hard copies of our BGS Priorities for the NHS long term plan into the hands of both the Shadow Health Minister, Jonathan Ashworth MP, and the Special Advisor to the Health Minister, Matt Hancock MP.  

Recent policy developments

BGS priorities for NHS long term plan.  In September, we published and publicised our priorities for the NHS long term plan. Our eight priorities are: greater investment in community-based, multidisciplinary working in primary care settings; integration and continuity of service; better identification of frailty among older people and earlier intervention; increased capacity in intermediate care; wider access to CGA and personal care plans; workforce strategy; healthy ageing; and measuring success. We have also just submitted our response to NHS England’s consultation on the long term plan, and this will be published on our website shortly.  

BGS Position Statement on primary care.  On 22 August we published and press released our position statement on primary care which sets out our views on how primary care can deliver better health outcomes for older people. We are calling for the changes required to achieve this to be built into Government’s long term plans for the NHS.  The focus of our statement is on enabling more older people with frailty to receive care as close to home as possible, and ensuring greater availability of geriatricians’ time in community settings, with CGA offered by community-based multidisciplinary teams. We have had positive feedback on our statement, including from NHS England.   

BGS and Royal College of Psychiatrists’ joint report on depression among older people living in care homes.  In September we published our joint report which contains a small number of good practice examples of collaborative approaches to treatment. We are now beginning to plan for a roundtable meeting with a group of senior opinion-formers and decision-makers to discuss how best to tackle the issues covered in the report. 

Social care funding.  On 2 October the Health Minister, Matt Hancock, announced additional funding of £240m for social care in England. The funding is for use by councils and is intended to go towards care for people who are medically fit for discharge from hospital and need social care in order to return home. However the additional funding is considered by independent expert analysts to be less than a third of what is required to meet current needs.  Therefore BGS will be continuing highlight the impact on health outcomes for older people when there are difficulties in accessing good quality social care, and to press for a long term sustainable funding solution for social care.  

Parliamentary engagement

BGS presence at Labour and Conservative Party Conferences.  At the end of September, BGS President, Dr Eileen Burns, and I attended Labour Party conference in Liverpool where they went to as many relevant fringe events as they could in order to promote the work of BGS members and our key messages, and increase the profile and influence of BGS through the useful networking opportunities. We were able to speak to Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Ashworth MP and present him with a copy of our priorities for the NHS long term plan.  

At the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Dr Zoe Wyrko, Vice President, Workforce, represented BGS at the RCP’s roundtable meeting on Workforce while I attended seven fringe events, which led to some very helpful conversations and new contacts which we are following up on in the coming weeks.  

Further Reading

The King’s Fund have conducted a study into how Integrated Care Systems are developing and identified emerging lessons from the progress in eight of the first ICS’s.  A year of integrated care.  https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/year-integrated-care-systems

The Department of Health and Social Care published an interim report on primary care at the beginning of October.  GP Partnership Review looks at evidence from around the world which shows that health care systems investing in primary care have better outcomes, with greater patient satisfaction delivered at lower cost.  

What can you do?  

Come to our Policy Breakfast at the BGS Autumn conference. We would like to increase member engagement in our policy influencing work. 

If you are interested in learning more about BGS’s work to influence health and social care policy at a national level, or become involved in shaping it then we would love to see you at the Policy Breakfast which is taking place at our Autumn conference in London next month.  

Dr Eileen Burns and I will be discussing why and how we engage in policy and influencing activity, our key messages, and how you can become more involved, without any overly onerous commitments on your time.  If you are unable to attend please get in touch with me anyway, if you are interested in becoming more engaged – policy [at] bgs [dot] org [dot] uk 

Caroline Cooke
BGS Policy Manager