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Former Tory cabinet member to fix Birmingham’s ‘broken’ health and social care

Former Tory cabinet member to fix Birmingham’s ‘broken’ health and social care

🕔06.Apr 2016

A former Tory cabinet member has been appointed to chair a new partnership to oversee budget sharing and closer co-operation between Birmingham and Solihull social services and the NHS.

Stephen Dorrell, who was Health Secretary in the 1990s, is to oversee the delivery of a five-year blueprint to transform a “broken health and social care system with urgency”.

The Birmingham and Solihull “System Board” will set the strategy for and drive the Sustainability and Transformation Plan, the means by which local government and the NHS will improve health and wellbeing outcomes for local people, drive up the quality of care, and improve financial efficiency.

According to the Government, the board will addresses prevention in its broadest sense by connecting reforms in health and social care to the wider devolution, economic and public service reforms being driven by the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Mr Dorrell is expected to play a leading role in exploring ways in which health service and council budgets can be aligned more closely, cutting out duplication.

With its budget under increasing demand from the care needs of an ageing population, Birmingham city council aims to save £60 million by 2019-20 through joint working arrangements, pooling its entire older adults budget with all relevant NHS spending.

The plan can only work if the council’s preventative strategy succeeds – enabling many more older people to be looked after at home or in the community rather than in expensive nursing homes.

Mr Dorrell will work alongside Birmingham city council chief executive Mark Rogers – who has the ultimate responsibility for the successful delivery of the programme.

Mr Rogers said:

The key aspect of Stephen’s role will be to enable and ensure a strong, sustainable and productive partnership ethos and practice across the local system so that the most challenging reforms ever required can be successfully implemented.

It is well understood that we need to transform a broken health and social care system with some urgency and there is a consensus amongst the partners across Birmingham and Solihull that Stephen’s experience, authority and connections will be a major asset as we set out to deliver a revolution in prevention, care, quality and the use of significantly constrained resources.

Working hand-in-hand with Stephen, the new board and I will also ensure that these reforms become integrated with the move to greater devolution and complement the economic and public service reforms big driven by the Combined Authority.

Mr Dorrell said:

I am flattered and delighted to have been asked to perform this role. I have known both Birmingham and Solihull all my life and throughout that time I have seen great changes in the expectations and quality of life of the people who live here.

But despite undoubted progress our social objectives have not always been met and the fruits of progress have not always been fairly shared.

Across both Birmingham and Solihull we need to recognise and celebrate our successes, but we also need to understand why health inequalities still persist and what we can do about them.

This is not simply a matter of public service efficiency, although that is certainly part of the story; more importantly, it is about reshaping public services to support successful and sustainable local communities.

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