Empty words and vague ideas on integration

The new White Paper on integration of health and social care Joining up care for people, places and populations has an early warning of how vacuous much of its content will be: pictures of smugly grinning Sajid Javid and Michael Gove.

The document instantly fails the Lowdown’s quick test of seriousness: it has just four instances of the ‘£’ sign in 70 pages, confirming that it does not discuss finances – and of course without financial resources its various vague ideas and promises are simply empty words.

The Foreword gives more grounds for concern, in fostering the illusion that – even if they were available – “universal access to high-quality treatment and support in all parts of the country” would be sufficient to bridge the growing gap in healthy life expectancy between rich and poor areas.

The social and economic inequalities, which have been systematically widened since 2010, and more rapidly widened since 2019 despite the rhetorical commitment to “levelling up,” are such a fundamental social determinant of health that even the most lavishly funded NHS and social care would not compensate for them, let alone the brutally under-funded services that struggle through after a decade and more of real-terms cuts.

Full story in The Lowdown, 20 February 2022