The Lay Advisory Board’s Question Time 2013 was held on Tuesday 26th March 2013. It was well attended with some 90 audience members from the general public, the broad medical profession, medical and nursing students, social services, care groups and other interested parties. The topic for the evening was:
How well integrated are medical and social care in Scotland?
Chaired by Dr Frank Dunn, we our excellent and diverse panel comprised:
- Ms Eleanor Bradford, – BBC Health Correspondent
- Councillor Matt Kerr, – Convener of Social Work in Glasgow
- Non-executive director of NHS GG&C
- Dr Jean Turner, – Chief Executive of Scotland Patients Association
- Ms Chris McNeill, Head of West Dumbarton Community Health & Care Services
- Prof. Hugh McLachlan – Professor of Applied Philosophy at GCU
The recent NHS North Staffs scandal was a backdrop to the discussion, showing how prioritising budgets and targets over patient care led to a total failure of care. The discussion ranged across the following topics:
- That health care and social care services should be integrated was a given, with the West Dumbarton CHP cited as an example of what could be achieved and we heard some of the issues that had been addressed in bringing this about. In particular, the practical difficulty of bringing medical and social work personnel together in a unified structure, given their different career pathway, salary and pension expectations.
- At the operational level the needs for professionals to not only listen to patients, but act on what they hear was emphasised. As was the need for staff concerns to be taken seriously and regarded as part of every day management, not "whistle blowing", leading to the termination of the staff member’s career. Transparency is essential and managers should all spend some time every year "on the shop floor".
- The variable quality of NHS computer systems, some invaluable, others being a failure and waste of resources was an ongoing issue, as was the fragmented nature of care, whether in the NHS or in Social Care was discussed.
- Finally, the conclusion of the panel and audience was that although we are a long way from the ideal, the population of Scotland have better Health and Social Care provision than is generally the case in the rest of the UK.
The audience enjoyed the evening and many commented afterwards on how refreshing it was to hear debate and not just the party line.