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Can health and social care in Wales ever be genuinely integrated?

This is a cross-post from Think. Improve. Change. A blog from Macmillan Cancer Support’s team of researchers, policy analysts and public affairs experts.

Greg Pycroft on the Parliamentary Review and what we want to see for cancer services in Wales.

Health and social care services are under the microscope in Wales following the Welsh Health Secretary’s  announcement in November last year that he will be commissioning a wide ranging review.

Commanding cross-party support, the Parliamentary Review has been asked to  advise on how to delivery change and build on the best of the current system.  

The Review Panel is expected to set out a vision for the future and come up with the seemingly impossible – a solution for health and social care to work in a more genuinely integrated way.

Its findings are expected to influence the tone, shape and content of Welsh health and social care policy and legislation for the rest of this – the fifth – Assembly term, and long into the future.

The Review has just over a year to investigate and report back to Assembly Members. An interim report is expected this summer and we should see the final report towards the end of 2017/early 2018.

Early indications are that the Review Panel are rightly focussing on areas of challenge and our fingers are crossed that their recommendations will be workable to take forward improvements to the way health and social care services are delivered in Wales.

The Review Panel reviewing health and social care in Wales
The Review Panel

This is a great opportunity for us at Macmillan to highlight our main campaign areas and call on the Review to ensure person centred care is put front and centre of recommendations for the future. While these themes reflect our insights on cancer services, they’re largely universal to other conditions.

In responding to the call for evidence stakeholders were invited to respond to eleven questions. We maintained our focus on delivering person centred care to improve the lives of people living with cancer.  

Alongside the critical issues of coordinating care and the impact cancer has on finances, we focussed on the changing cancer story and the crucial role the professional cancer workforce has in improving the quality of life for people with cancer.    

We were also invited to speak to members of the Review Panel and were asked for our views on how best to provide patient information and how technology could enhance this experience for patients to enable them to feel more in control of their own care.  

They also expressed an interest in learning from best practice and how this could be spread to deliver a Once for Wales approach.  Our focus on service re-design was welcomed and we were asked to expand upon some of Macmillan’s innovative programme of work delivered across the UK.

The chamber in the Senedd
The chamber in the Senedd

As the formal evidence gathering ends the Review moves onto its deliberative phase and we expect an interim report in July. The final report is anticipated to arrive in December, and we hope to see the case being made for significant reforms over the next decade to the health and social care system in Wales.  

We want to see recommendations that can be implemented relatively swiftly; leadership and real change to ensure Wales delivers person-centred care for people with cancer that is fit for the 21st century.

However, we temper our enthusiasm with a note of caution; we have experience in Wales of similar, large scale reviews – for instance, the Williams Commission’s review of public services – ending up left on the shelf after exposure to party political posturing.

Health and social care in Wales depends on the cross-party support for change holding and the case for change being persuasive enough to allow meaningful reform to start from the point the Review publishes its final recommendations.  Watch this space!

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