On the 8th of September, I made a speech in the Lords underlining the impact of the 2012 Act on health and social care. I noted that there is simply not enough money to do all the things asked of the health and social care system at a time of rising demand from a growing and ageing population.
You can find my speech and debate in full here.
As we have heard, the 2012 Act introduced major structural changes—I am not going to run through them again—but how has the system responded to these changes in the face of huge financial and operational pressures? To answer that question it is important to highlight some key factors. First, whatever their rights and wrongs, the geography of clinical commissioning groups is not strategic. Simply put, there are considerably more CCGs—some 209—than there are hospitals, of which there are just over 150. That is not helpful. Such fragmentation militates against strategic planning and decision-making.
The simple truth is that there is not enough money in the system to do all the things being asked of the health and social care system at a time of rapidly rising demand from a growing and ageing population—and that is before we come to the newest policy goal of seven-day working. We would all like to see that in an ideal world, but it must be properly resourced and planned if it is ever to become a reality. The current approach of trying to ram it through on resources that are not really adequate for five-day working, let alone seven, is clearly not viable.