The Scottish Government have announced that an additional £8.4 million will be made available to NHS Boards to improve service resilience over the festive period – https://news.gov.scot/news/additional-funding-for-nhs-winter-resilience
The funding is intended to support new ways of working in supporting people to transition through health and social care services, including:
- well-co-ordinated, multidisciplinary urgent health and social care provision across the whole care system
- sufficient levels and numbers of senior decision makers from all sectors rostered
- NHS 24 providing enhanced support for self-management and direction to the right service where needed
- promoting community pharmacies as a source of advice and medicines
- proactive discharge planning in advance of public holidays
The announcement means that the total investment for health and social care services to deal with winter pressures and unscheduled care will now be a record high of £22.4 million this year.
Whilst Scottish Care welcomes any additional funding to support what is an extremely stretched and under-resourced sector, the timing and intentions of this funding raise questions about the effectiveness of strategic planning at national and local level. The fact that this year’s funding represents the largest winter funding amount on record is concerning rather than reassuring given that it points to a continuing lack of proactive, preventative and inclusive planning processes. It suggests that the issue of winter pressures on services is worsening each year, rather than being planned for and alleviated. Social care supports are not a tap that can be switched on and off, and simply attaching a lump sum to a pressured time of year does nothing to improve the existing challenges which inhibit an individual receiving the right support at the right time such as problematic commissioning approaches, unsustainable services, recruitment and retention difficulties and a lack of meaningful engagement with independent sector social care providers. If these issues were prioritised in a year-round way, we may not be facing the prospect of a challenging winter for care providers and workers and most importantly, the risk of individuals not being able to access the right support and experiencing negative outcomes as a result.