Greater use of technology and informal integration of health and social care should outlast the pandemicby Nigel Crisp / June 22, 2020 / Leave a comment
The pandemic has brought about massive and immediate changes in the NHS, many of which have been very damaging for patients and staff. Cancers and other conditions have been neglected and there is clearly an enormous build-up of mental health problems as a result of the trauma people have experienced and witnessed. But there have also been some changes for the better, some of which could have long-term benefits.
The technological shift in respect of virtual consultations and wider use of technology has attracted the greatest attention. But perhaps the most radical is the way that many local NHS bodies have begun to work better with other organisations and how health and social care have become increasingly integrated in practice. This working together on common objectives has been impressive, but can it be maintained for the longer term?
Change has happened remarkably swiftly in health, as in other sectors. The speedy development of the Nightingale Hospitals is just one example. Virtual consultations via video and phone have grown dramatically from being less than 2 per cent of all consultations in the NHS to one survey that suggests it is now more than 80 per cent.
I have met many people while researching my latest book Health is made at home, hospitals are for repairs who are from outside the formal health services but are playing a major role in improving health. These are employers, teachers, architects and community leaders who are creating the conditions for people to be healthy and helping them to be so. Their role is vital in everything from healthy housing to good education and fulfilling employment.
Many of them told me how difficult it was to work with the NHS as a partner. One housing director, who I had planned to quote to this effect in the book, has asked me to change her words as a result of the pandemic. The NHS has changed, she said. They are listening and engaging, and she is optimistic about future relationships.
Other people talked about improved teamwork both inside and outside the NHS. Titilola Banjoko, executive managing director of Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, told me that she was spending most of her time now working across the whole spectrum of health and care, supporting social care and care homes as well as hospitals and NHS bodies. It was…