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Moving beyond a commitment to carers – Dr Martin McShane

As it is Carers’ Week I was reminded through social media this week of a blog I wrote about our commitment to carers last year.

It led me to reflect on what progress we have made.

It will be impossible, in a blog, to cover everything and all the work that has been going on for the last year given we made 37 commitments across eight key priorities.

These include raising the profile of carers, education and training, person-centred coordinated care and primary care, and have been developed in partnership with carers, patients, partner organisations and care professionals over the past few months.

England’s five and a half million carers make a critical and underappreciated contribution not only to loved ones, neighbours and friends, but to the very sustainability of the NHS in England.

The commitment to carers is to give them the recognition and support they need to provide invaluable care for loved ones. Carers are hugely important to the NHS, their importance and value is recognised in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View which commits the NHS to find new ways to support them.

Getting traction and action has been made possible through a delivery group with carers organisations and with the leadership and support from senior executives in NHS England and our teams across multiple directorates.

The first priority was to raise the profile of carers.  Given the importance of the Five Year Forward View, I would point to this as just one example of where we have woven the importance of carers into what we are asking of the system.

Education and training, delivering person centred care, primary care and commissioning support were equal priorities. I can point to the work and case studies supported by NHS Improving Quality, the handbooks published to help professionals deliver person-centred care, the leadership and support from the RCGP with their programme for carers and even the award NHS England is sponsoring with the HSJ this year for the best example of commissioning for carers.

NHS England also sits on a cross-Government strategy group and as an employer is a registered and active member of Carers UK/Employers for Carers UK.

Is that enough? Of course not. It will take time and ownership by everyone who delivers and supports individuals and carers. What we can try to do at the centre is make it easy for people to say ‘we have done this because of the system, not despite the system’.

It is a start, there is a long way to go but I hope when the formal update is published in the near future people will acknowledge that we have begun to move beyond commitment and into action.

To mark Carers’ Week, we have launched the final Active Workforce Campaign pledge: ‘Pledge Ten – Carers’. Find out more about Carers’ Week and the resources we have available, including complimentary online membership to Carers UK for anyone who is a carer.

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3 comments

  1. Keith Tipping says:

    When are we going to get an Ombudsman for seriously mentally ill patients. The seriously mentally ill of all people need someone to look after their interests far more than any other illness. Please don’t respond as an accountant and say there isn’t any money, your duty as doctors is to fight for the mentally disadvantaged and give them a possibility of as good a life experience as possible and also to help carers by giving them advice and have the teeth to make councils and NHS conform to the law. I’m afraid they mostly take the view that you can take from the mentally ill because they can’t fight back! It’s also in the national interest because Schizophrenics are amongst the cleverest people in the country, so to help them positively could lead to higher levels of achievement in the wider community. Whose Against that? Please use your talents to get us an ombudsman.

  2. Norman Phillips says:

    As a full time Carer for my Wife who has MS, I long for the day when the medical people who look after my will see me as part of the team and in fact the only common connection across her care.
    Where this is done the outcomes for both Ros and I are better and the cost to the NHS of looking after Ros is less. Where it is not done and I am the outsider looking in the costs are greater ie pointless admissions to hospital. This increases the stress on me and means you are having to treat my stress and exhaustion.
    It is time the role of “Family Carer” is recognised for the value it brings.
    Too many medical professionals at best treat us as over anxious relatives and at its worst ignore us to the cost of the NHS as a whole and to us as a family

    • Keith Tipping says:

      The care act 2014 covers all of this complaint and very much more. I recommend that all carers and patients who can understand read the guidance for care act 2014 published as a book free of charge on the internet. One woed of warning however most of the NHS staff are awatre of it’s existence but have no idea of the help it gives to caretrs and the cared for. I see pretty pamphlets given out but when you ask the author any questions its clear they haven’t read or understood the contents and I think it will be a long haul before they do. It’s ver clear from section 3.15 of the guidance notes that carers should be given a copy of the care plan, this is still being withheld in many cases the reason given is data protection, but the care act supercedes the data protection act in time so this is a lame duck.