Health and social care must begin at home rather than rely on State, says Javid

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Watch: Javid - Health and social care 'begins at home'

Health and social care “begins at home,” the Health Secretary has said as he committed 2022 to be “a year of renewal and reform”.

Sajid Javid reiterated that when he began his role in June he was told the NHS waiting list could reach 13 million and that it will “get worse before it gets better”, adding that no society could accept that, and the Government is “delivering” on its catch-up plan.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Mr Javid said: “My priorities are simple: Covid, recovery, reform.

“Covid – getting us, and keeping us, out of the pandemic.

“Recovery – tackling the huge backlog of appointments it has caused.

“And reform of our health and social care systems for the long-term.”

He also outlined a hierarchy of health and social care that he said started at home with family, adding that people should not always go to the State first.

He said: “The State was needed in this pandemic more than any time in peacetime. But Government shouldn’t own all risks and responsibilities in life. We as citizens have to take some responsibility for our health too.

“We shouldn’t always go first to the State. What kind of society would that be?

“Health – and social care – begins at home. Family first, then community, then the State.

“If you do need support, we live in a compassionate, developed country that can afford to help with that.”

He said the public “rightly and proudly” expect a service that is free at the point of use, but also said people expect the health service to deliver for them.

He said: “They expect to be able to see their GP in the way that they choose, and to have a relationship with that service that goes beyond picking up the pieces when things go wrong.”

Conservative Party Conference
Health Secretary Sajid Javid making his keynote address to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He said when he moved to the health portfolio: “There was no doubt about the biggest item that was spilling out of my in-tray.

“An NHS waiting list that will get worse before it gets better, that was projected to grow as high as 13 million. No Government, no health secretary, no society, can accept that.

“That’s why we have prioritised elective recovery, check-ups, scans, surgeries, with the biggest catch-up fund in the history of the NHS. And we are already delivering.”

Looking to the future, the Health Secretary said 2022 would be a “year of renewal and reform” for the NHS.

He said: “In the past, some governments chose cash, others chose reform. That’s a false choice. You can’t have one without the other.

“So yes, we will continue to prioritise funding for the NHS in the wake of this global pandemic. But I also promise you this: 2022 will be a year of renewal and reform.”

Watch: Javid - 2022 will be year of 'renewal and reform' for NHS

He said the NHS needs a “truly modern digitised system”, which he described as the “only way” to drive down the backlog and build a sustainable service for the future.

And he reiterated that retired general Sir Gordon Messenger will lead a review of leadership and management in health and social care.

He went on: “No reform is easy, otherwise it would’ve been done already. But if we get it right, no, when we get it right, we won’t build back the way things were.

“We’ll build a future where our health and social care systems are integrated more seamlessly together, where British life sciences lead the world on new treatments, where we have not only the best surgeons, but robots performing life-saving surgeries.”

For Labour, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: “This was an empty speech that will hugely disappoint the many thousands of patients who are anxious and scared, those waiting longer for cancer treatment or surgery, those waiting for a doctor’s appointment and those increasingly forced to pay for surgery.

“Tory MPs have imposed a punishing, unfair tax rise on working people yet ministers have no plan to rebuild and reform health care to bring waiting times down and deliver the quality care people deserve.”

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