Health care in Essex on ‘the verge of a crisis’ says new report

HEALTH care services in Essex are on “the verge of a crisis” that can only be avoided if a fresh approach is found, according to a new report.

The report, published by the Who Will Care? Commission, an independent body that has talked to patients, practitioners, local authorities and health bodies across the county, says central to any new approach is returning the ownership of health and care to individuals and families.

It makes a number of key recommendations which include the need to develop a new understanding between the public sector and the people of Essex by being honest about the realities and costs of care, and preventing unnecessary crises in care by changing the focus from treating disease and chronic conditions to supporting individuals earlier.

It also says community resources should be better used and that technology has an important role to play in supporting independent living, self-care and access to good advice.

There is also a call for key partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors to work more closely together.

The report was led by Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, who is chairman of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London and a former chief executive of Marie Curie Cancer Care.

He said: “Carrying on as we are is not an option because we’re on the verge of a real crisis in care for families in Essex. It is clear to us that the ability to take more control over our care really is the only game in town.

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“Meeting Essex’s future care needs will be a real challenge for Essex public services and Essex taxpayers and these lessons will be the same across the country. Public bodies need to do more to make this clear to us and we need to do more to prepare for the realities of care and caring.”

Responding to the report, Cllr David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said he took three key messages from the report: that people in Essex needed a new contract setting out what their rights and responsibilities were on health and care; that there has to be a focus on prevention so the time and money spent on costly and more invasive procedures was reduced and that new technology must be used to enable the better sharing of data across organisations.

He said: “Public services face huge challenges in the coming years from reduced funding, coupled with an increase in life expectancy and an aging population. It is imperative that we act now and find a solution that delivers improvements for all.

“The report sets a stark challenge for us all. It is clear that we must all take responsibility for improving health and social care and we are compelled to do that now rather than pushing it down the line to the next generation.”