PULSE magazine today reported that the BMA (British Medical Association) has rejected the Labour Party’s suggestion for full integration of health and social care budgets, saying it is neither ‘necessary nor desirable’.
It is reported that in a formal submission to the party’s policy review into care integration, the BMA said integration may lead to the NHS budget being tapped to prop up underfunded social care, and argued that clinicians should stay in charge of budgets as they have expert knowledge of local health needs but that there should be significantly improved coordination between health and social care funding bodies.
Broadly speaking, healthcare funding covers medical and nursing care provision for individuals, whether in hospital or at home, and is provided according to need – not means. Social care provision is for non medical/nursing care needs and is means tested. Lack of resources is a common theme and the concern is that the ‘safety net’ of healthcare according to need may fail if the two are merged.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in Penningtons' clinical negligence team, said: “In the work that we do, we deal with a number of individuals who move back into their homes/the community with significant disability. At present, where they have medical or nursing needs to at least some degree these are met under healthcare provision. Where they have social care needs it is often clearly the case that the level of care provision is inadequate. We share the concerns of the BMA that Peter may be robbed to pay Paul, resulting in lower quality of healthcare provision for those who really need it, and understand the recommendations that the BMA has made.”