Plans to integrate health and care services in Norfolk and Waveney will not be achieved unless additional funding is made available, Norman Lamb has warned.
Responding to the publication of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for the region, the North Norfolk MP welcomed proposals to ensure a greater focus on the prevention of ill health, better integration between health and social care, and embedding mental health support more effectively into primary care.
However, in a letter to Dr Wendy Thomson, Managing Director of Norfolk County Council, he said that the plans are “very high level with no detail at all about how these good aspirations can be achieved”.
He also suggested that the plan would require “substantial investment in new ways of providing more coordinated and integrated services”, and “does not appear to be grounded in reality in terms of what is achievable” within the current financial constraints in health and care.
Mr Lamb stressed the importance of working towards a single pooled budget and joint commissioning between health and social care in the region. He also outlined the need for a clear plan for digitising the health and care system, linking up primary care, acute and mental health services, social services, the ambulance trust, and patients themselves.
Commenting on the STP, Mr Lamb said:
“Despite the horror stories emerging from STPs in some parts of the country, I am broadly encouraged by direction of travel in the Norfolk and Waveney plan. However, the work is at a very early stage and little detail currently exists.
“The focus on bringing the different parts of the system together more effectively – physical health, mental health and social care – is welcome.
“But these proposals will have very clear cost implications, which I fear will prove fatal to its objectives at a time when the local health and care system is facing an enormous deficit.
“A lack of funding will inevitably result in an emphasis on sustainability over transformation. If we are to capitalise on the potential of STPs to deliver better and more joined-up patient care, the Government must build a cross-party consensus on a long-term funding settlement for the NHS and social care.”