Julie Morgan, Welsh Social Care Minister received a report from an Expert Group at the end of last year scoping the future of social care in Wales (social care is a devolved service in Wales). The report advocates that social care should be “free at the point of service” as is most NHS care. However this may have to be achieved in stages over a period of years. During the coming year the report and Minister’s response will be the subject of debate and at some stage a Welsh Government Policy will be opened to public consultation.
NHS care of eyes, teeth, feet and ears:
Our members will be aware that the services for these aspects of health-so important to older people- are already largely privatised. Many people are unable to access them because of the cost. The Forum has highlighted these concerns to the Older People’s Commissioner , the Community Health Council and the University Health Board . Welsh Government has recently increased the number of NHS dental appointments , but the present situation still means that these services are sometimes not accessed by older people because of the cost. The result is that these services ( which are preventive and can seriously impair the quality of life for older citizens) are not accessed until a crisis such as a serious fall and then entail more extensive interventions from the NHS.
Members have been reporting some improvement in getting GP appointments with shorter waits on the phone. Our Health Board has provided some additional resources in recent months to mitigate problems of delays in getting appointments. At the West Quay Surgery in Barry a new system is operating; the patient rings the surgery and instead of waiting in a telephone queue has their number recorded for a ring back call from the surgery. If the trial is effective it will be rolled out across the Vale.
Increasingly many NHS services can be accessed by using a smart phone and an APP. Many older people do not use a smart phone or do not put Apps on their phone making life more difficult for them. This development is also gaining momentum in travel ticketing arrangements and in banking/shopping. Should Welsh Government digital inclusion policy ensure that older people can access training e.g. in libraries and that public bodies always provide a paper or telephone communication option?
Latest Welsh Government Health statistics-the Health Minister’s Response: There have been some improvements in waiting times for treatments, first appointments and ambulance response times. Yet there remains a long way to go before performance reaches pre pandemic levels. The pressures on NHS services in Wales remain intense , In last December nearly 320,000 consultations were carried out in hospitals with similar pressures on GP services.
Prostate cancer will affect 1 in 8 men during their lifetime .Recent research has shown that a new technique of diagnosis (CamPROBE) is less invasive, can be performed with local anaesthetic, is less painful and is half the cost of present procedures.
New Diagnostic Centre:
It has been announced that a new “diagnostic centre” has been approved to be established at LLantrissant and will serve the South East Wales region. It is not clear as yet which group of patients it will serve and how it will coordinate with existing services. Also a new ““genome research and treatment centre “ will be established in Cardiff but serve the whole of Wales.
Community Health Council:
In March 2023 the present Cardiff and Vale Community Health Council will be superseded by a new organisational structure “Citizen’s Voice” It will gather citizen’s views on health services and on local authority social care services. A strong element of the new structure will be a strengthened advocacy service for people with complaints or dissatisfaction with NHS or with local authority social care.