Wales needs to take a radical approach to health and social care integration. Local government must be at the heart of this.
Our councils hold many levers for improving community well-being. To wield them effectively we must break down barriers and invest new monies in local government preventative services.
Now is the time to invest. Rapid demographic change, rising demand and significantly reduced budgets are all placing our health and social care services under significant pressure.
Progress is being made. The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act outlines a vision of early intervention, investment in preventative services and the integration of health and social care. The Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act places service quality and improvement at the heart of the regulatory regime, and strengthens protection for those who need it.
Welsh Government’s publication of ‘A Healthier Wales’, their long-term (10 year) national plan for health and social care sets out a vision of a ‘whole system approach to health and social care’, which is focussed on health and wellbeing, and on preventing illness.
Local councils are at the centre of delivering this vision. No other sector is better placed to deliver Wales’ social care or public health services.
We believe councils must be given the freedom to shape their care services based on the needs of their own locality and expand their areas of responsibility. Central to this is the need to find a long-term sustainable funding solution for social care services in Wales.
We must be radical in our focus. From community care to leisure centres, local council services improve well-being while actively reducing pressure in other areas like the NHS. They urgently need investment.
For more information contact: Stewart Blythe