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Home Gravesend News Article
That was the stark warning given by the Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for planning and buying healthcare for its 250,000 patients, at a public seminar.
It is now looking at ways of merging health and social services to create a more efficient system and cope with increasing demand.
As well as the area facing an 8% population increase in the next six years, the CCG also has to meet the needs of an ageing population and an area where 52 languages are spoken.
It is hoped that one benefit of providing more ‘joined-up care’ will be patients no longer facing numerous appointments within different departments.
The CCG’s chief operating officer Debbie Stock told the Putting Patients First meeting at Princes Park Stadium in Dartford: “If we do nothing, we will be £20 million short in five years’ time.
“The only solution is to start integrating health, social, community and mental health services.
“Patients have complained they have to keep telling their story to different people, that no one knows anything about them and that sometimes even their GPs don’t know they have gone to hospital.”
Discussions have already been held with Darent Valley Hospital, Kent Community Health NHS Trust, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and the ambulance service to see how this can be best achieved.
The CCG has also commissioned a review of community services to see how they can work together more effectively.
From next year, 4% of the CCG’s £278 million budget must be spent on integrating social care as part of the government’s Better Care Fund strategy.
Ms Stock said: “The Better Care Fund offers an important opportunity to transform the system in north Kent to better meet the needs of a rapidly ageing population.
“This will ease pressure on the system so we can provide better services. In the current financial climate, this is a unique opportunity to rethink how health and care services are resourced.”
She stressed, however, that it was not an attempt to plug a gap in social care or health budgets but a “genuine transformation” of the system to reduce hospital admissions and support people so they can live as independently as possible.
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