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GP to lead major Labour party review of health policy

A GP is to lead an independent commission set up by the Labour Party to look at how health and social care can be better integrated that has been launched today.

Sir John Oldham, a GP in Glossop and the former efficiency tsar at the Department of Health, will be asked to come up with a range of ideas for how health and social care can be integrated to make the NHS more effective and affordable.

The move is due to be announced by Labour leader Ed Miliband today. Mr Miliband will argue that the future of the NHS demands ‘whole-person care’, with physical health, mental health and social care merged into a single service.

He will quote recent Nuffield Trust research that said that without better integration the NHS might have a shortfall of up to £29bn a year 2020.

The move comes after shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said health and wellbeing boards should take over the health budgets from CCGs to create a truly integrated system.

Mr Miliband will say today: ‘We must make every pound we spend go further at a time when our NHS faces the risk of being overwhelmed by a crisis in funding because of care needs by the end of this decade.

‘There is widespread support within the NHS and care services for integrating care. But, for the last three years, the Government has turned the NHS upside down with a top-down reorganisation that has virtually nothing to do with the urgent challenges we face of improving the way care is delivered.

‘We have a different vision for the future of our NHS - one which embraces its founding principles of co-operation and integration rather than imposing fragmentation and free market ideology.’

The BMA said it is in the process of producing a response to the Labour Party’s proposals. GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We are concerned about the increased fragmentation of care and services at the moment and would want to improve the integration of health and social care. However, we would be concerned if by doing so the funding for healthcare was reduced to plug bigger gaps in the social care budget.’

‘The core of general practice is to provide holistic care which is why we have been so concerned about the increased focus on narrow box-ticking. We need to get back to GPs being supported to provide holistic care, with enough time to work with others in a comprehensive primary care based team.’