Guest Editorial: Bridging the gap between health and social care

The Dilnot review of how we pay for the care of older people has brought into sharp focus the challenges presented by an ageing population that is living longer.

What should be a cause for celebration is becoming a cause of anxiety.

An RCGP report to be published focuses on greater integration between health and social care. It examines how general practice and social care currently relate to each other, the role GPs should play in providing support to those with health and social care needs and their carers, and how policy and practice need to develop to support the changes required.

This includes GPs being given adequate resources to spend longer with patients and build services based around their needs.

We asked our members whether the relationship between general practice and social care is working as well as it can. Our view is that it is not.

We identify a number of barriers to a better working relationship between health and social care, including their different funding structures, variation between local authorities in the provision of care, and separation of responsibility for the commissioning of health and social care at a structural level.

We highlight priorities - funding for additional resources for GP training, investment in primary care to increase its capacity to deliver more integrated care, and a more integrated approach to the way information about health and social care services is provided to carers.

We will continue to push for a greater number of GPs, spending more time with patients to deliver the highest quality, safe and joined-up care across organisational and professional boundaries.

  • Professor Clare Gerada is a GP in London.

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