At last - signs of joined-up thinking

AT LAST real attempts are being made to throw a rope bridge across the great gulf that has separated health from social services in Norfolk. During this paper's Who Cares? campaign in 2007 I was reporting continually on north Norfolk people who had fallen into that gulf and were screaming, unheard, for help.

AT LAST real attempts are being made to throw a rope bridge across the great gulf that has separated health from social services in Norfolk. During this paper's Who Cares? campaign in 2007 I was reporting continually on north Norfolk people who had fallen into that gulf and were screaming, unheard, for help.

There were carers struggling to look after a loved one with dementia - not deemed medically ill enough to qualify for NHS funding and not sufficiently incapable to merit social services support. There were the spouses who wanted terminally-ill partners to die at home. Their stresses were made worse by delays and anguish as the two authorities ping-ponged details between each other: what aspects of patient care should come out of the 'medical' and which the 'social' budget?

And there was a couple with learning difficulties where the husband couldn't really cope with nursing his wife after her return from hospital, didn't have the communication skills to plead his case and was receiving inadequate help from health and social services.

But, as reported in the News, Holt is to be among a dozen pilot areas in the county where GPs, adult social care and community heath staff will start to work in teams to try to provide more efficient, quicker 'joined-up care' for sick and vulnerable people.


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I attended a meeting late last year at which ideas for the proposed health campus in North Walsham were being bandied about. Among those present was Jeanne Heal, manager of North-East Norfolk branch of the charity Crossroads, which cares for carers. Jeanne and her team must witness daily the problems red tape causes the sick and vulnerable among us. She argued resolutely for social services to be included in the health campus, and I was pleased to see, in a report from a February 5 stakeholders' meeting about the project, that the integration of the two services was among priorities.

Back in 2007 I would often quote Mark Taylor, who at the time was Norfolk Primary Care Trust's director of provider services. In the past I've poured scorn on fancy titles, but I was pleased to see in last week's News that he is now director of service integration for NHS Norfolk. Those dull-sounding words 'service integration' indicate a welcome change in mindset and are the first rung on that rope ladder we so desperately need.

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