Lets ‘build back better’

Written by: Ian Welsh, Chief Executive, the ALLIANCE

Published: 14/10/2020

ALLIANCE Chief Executive calls for equal and fair heath and social care services for those who access and deliver it.

In health and social care, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the fact that while we are all experiencing the same storm, we are certainly not all in the same boat, and, as we look to renewal, targeted steps need to be taken to address the persistent, longstanding inequalities within society that this crisis has demonstrated.

We must ensure that equalities, intersectionality and human rights-based approaches are embedded and mainstreamed in all aspects of our recovery. Now more than ever, rights provide a common language to address and overcome seemingly thorny and intractable issues to achieve a fairer, joined up, sustainable and transparent system, one that works better for those who access and deliver services.

The recommendation of GPs at the Deep End that provision of Community Links Workers should be increased from 50% to 100% of Deep End General Practices is only one of a series of initiatives that must be scaled up across the system. The pandemic has re-emphasised the importance of Self Management in supporting the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s population and the lockdown period has seen people forced to develop knowledge and skills to help them better navigate their own conditions.

Moreover, Third Sector organisations have provided necessary information and support to people living with long term conditions, disabled people and unpaid carers during this period. Local cross-sector partnerships on community cohesion, resilience and social care must be examined anew (including funding) as we remobilise.

There is a growing realisation that if we are to ‘build back better’, three things are clear. Firstly, social care needs to be reviewed. Secondly, the wellbeing of our cross-sectoral health and social care workforce needs to be a priority. Thirdly, we must see the delivery of services through the prism of a person-centred perspective.

The massive upscaling and dynamic roll-out of digital technology in health and social care, has demonstrated that a sclerotic system can be galvanised with common purpose and leadership. We must replicate the same sense of urgency to address systematic inequalities. The pace at which decisions have needed to be made, policies and frameworks delivered,
has posed a challenge to the pursuit of meaningful co-production. We must re-affirm our commitment to this principle, and take steps to ensure that renewal is shaped by the views and experiences of the people most affected.

Moving forward, it is vital that we develop an informed understanding of how these rapidly deployed solutions are working for people in practice and it is vital that health and care services retain multiple access routes that put people at the centre.

Finally, we’ve all reflected carefully on our own health and wellbeing, how precious and fragile it is. I want the pandemic to be remembered as the event that drove us to build a more compassionate, inclusive and equal society for disabled people, unpaid carers and people living with long term conditions.

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