Ivan Camphor, Chair of Committee on Community Care
Chair, members of the representative body and guests.
I’ve no need to convince you of the role, the importance, of community care, be it given by a GP, district nurse, care worker, or a psychiatrist.
But it’s worth reflecting, a while, on the often awful consequences of getting things wrong.
Of not having the right community services, in the right places. Of not having enough. The impact of gaps between community and hospital-based care, the gaps which patients too often slip through.
When community care is not there, children with mental ill health get worse and worse until forced into A&E, then beds, hundreds of miles away from home. Their illness entrenched, they become inpatients for months, away from their families, their schools, their friends.
When community care is not there, mothers are separated from their babies: a most awful consequence of too little being done too late for parents struggling with mental health problems. It happens. Painfully often.
This year we’ve seen record number of adults sent to beds out of area, despite the Government’s pledge – or should I say ‘ambition’ – to end this awful practice by 2021.
Too many patients are forced to stay in hospital beds that they do not need because there’s not the support, out in the community, to let them to go home, where they want to be. Where they should be.
There’s still much to do to improve community care and improve its joins with hospital services. And I want to reflect on the committee’s achievements this year in raising awareness and influencing community care health policy.
RB, last year, you called on us to develop a vision of community-based health services, one which seeks to integrate health and social care as it should be. Our own vision, one which brings together ideas from all branches of practice. A vision driven by patient care; not ideology or bureaucracy.
We’re well on our way. The BMA Vision for Community Care will outline the key requirements for community-based health services, including funding. Its finding the barriers to the provision of the best community care. We’ll be consulting all specialities on our proposals and we hope to publish it later this year.
The committee has also taken forward the BMA’s work to lobby for care workers to receive a living wage- a vital policy to address chronic workforce shortages. Last year, we swung behind Unison’s ethical care charter, which sets commitments for councils to fix minimum standards to protect the dignity of vulnerable people and to improve conditions for the workers who care for them.
This year we’ve joined Unison and Age UK at an event in St Helens to urge councils across the UK to adopt this charter. I spoke alongside local Labour MPs Conor McGinn and Marie Rimmer calling for a national register for carers in England. These registers push up standards and improve safeguards for people using their services. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have them. Why not here, in England?
Later this year, I’ll expect to be taking our campaign to support the ethical care charter to Parliament to lobby a cross party group of MPs for further action.
We’ve worked on a range of BMA projects from devolution to sustainability and transformation plans, and mental health funding. We’ve fed into work to improve the primary-secondary care interface.
Our member, Jenny Wigram, has raised questions about how we make personal health budgets work in the BMJ. We’ve worked with colleagues and other committees, including Andrew Molodynski who has helped with our response to the Mental Health Act review.
I would like to thank all members of the committee and the secretariat, in particular, Sophie-Odile Sauerteig, Hope Mears and Lucy Kerr for their hard work and support over the last session.
We will continue our efforts to examine and consider the implications of policy changes in social care, mental health, new care models and the impacts on patients and the workforce.
We all know the importance of community care.
We’ve seen first hand the consequences of getting it wrong. We’ve felt the frustration of a disintegrated health and social care system. When it should be a seamless one.
We’re committed to developing a vision for a brilliant community care service and we won’t stop until we’ve got one.
RB, I move.