Telecare and Telehealth can be transformational in terms of enabling independent living much longer than would otherwise be the case
Our NHS is suffering from "institutionalised fragmentation”, the care services minister has said.
Speaking at a Lib Dem fringe event on 'living well with a health condition', minister, Norman Lamb, called the existing separation of social care from health care and primary care from secondary care, "crazy”.
Drawing on the changes due to be implemented, under the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act, Lamb said providing the government is sensible about it "there is a huge potential” for clinicians to shape care needs around the patient.
He used the example of Torbay, where they created integrated teams of health and care workers, revolving around their GP practices.
However Lamb stressed that historically the NHS is not very good at rolling examples of best practice out nationwide.
"One would have thought with a national health system it would be easy to say, "this is good practice let's apply it everywhere”.
"But it is actually quite difficult to get good practice working everywhere,” he said.
Lamb called for innovation within the NHS, noting that more GP appointments could be conducted by email, saving time, which could then be freed-up for those with long term chronic conditions.
"It happens patchily in this country, but it should happen routinely.
"We have this crazy thing about ten minutes per patient, when some people need half an hour to an hour and some people need only 30 seconds,” he said.
Lamb said working away from home he struggles to get an appointment with his GP, but that they have come to "an arrangement”.
He said freeing up the time of GPs would allow them to work with care teams and support patients with long-term conditions, ultimately enabling patients to "self-care”.
"Telecare and Telehealth can be transformational in terms of enabling independent living much longer than would otherwise be the case,” he said.
Referring to the need to make spending cuts Lamb said there is always a temptation for bureaucracies to make "easy savings”, such as by cutting the number of nurses.
Yet the minister stressed, cost savings should not be about "trying to cut money off of the bottom line”, but "re-engineering how services work”.
"We need to ensure that finance is right so that we can protect the NHS, because it is such an extraordinary institution,” he said.
'In it for the long term: living well with a health condition' is a joint fringe event from Action on Hearing Loss, The British Heart Foundation and Stroke Association.
At Labour Party conference the event will be held on Tuesday 2nd Oct from 12:30-2pm. For further details please see the British Heart Foundation's events listing.