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Social care added to Jeremy Hunt’s portfolio

RCGP welcomes bringing roles together

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 09 January 2018

The Royal College of General Practitioners has expressed support for the bringing together of health and social care into the portfolio of one government minister. 

As part of the government’s cabinet reshuffle it was announced that Jeremy Hunt would expand his role as health secretary to become secretary of state for both health and social care in England. 

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "This is a critical role at a critical time for general practice and the wider NHS and we will continue to work constructively with Jeremy Hunt in his expanded role as secretary of state for both health and social care in England.

"We support the bringing together of health and social care into the portfolio of one minister as we recognise that what happens to patients in the NHS is profoundly impacted by the state of social care.”

However, she added: "General practice is currently facing intense resource and workforce pressures. Our workload has risen by at least 16% over the last seven years, but the share of the NHS budget our service receives is less than it was a decade ago, and our workforce has not risen at pace with demand.

"GPs and our teams conduct the vast majority of patient contacts in the NHS. We provide the most cost-effective service in the NHS and in doing so we alleviate pressures right across the health service and social care sector, and we keep our patients safe.

"It is essential that the Department of Health and Social Care delivers on its commitment to NHS England's GP Forward View, including the promises of £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020.”

It is understood that Jeremy Hunt refused to be moved to a new position of business secretary and instead persuaded the prime minister to allow him to stay in health but with social care added to his portfolio. 

A number of charities have also expressed support for the marrying of the social and health care portfolio. Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Today’s announcement signals that social care is being placed on an equal footing with healthcare. People with dementia are the biggest recipients of social care and so we hope this marks a new dawn where they do not need to fight to receive essential support. At last, 70 years since the NHS was founded, we have a chance for free care at the point of delivery for all diseases. This is what we, and people with dementia, have been calling for and we welcome this progressive step forwards.”  

Picture credit: NHS confederation, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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