My Lords, I want to make a few points about health and social care. How do we provide quality healthcare that meets the real needs of patients in today’s world? Will the popular biomedical model of health meet all those patient needs, or does its internal logic present us with a limited view of what a human being is and provide us with an expensive approach to healthcare? Is what we say that we believe about health believable?
My Lords, the GPs I work with in east London tell me that in poor communities such as Tower Hamlets, 50 per cent of the patients they see do not actually need a doctor; they need something else. What presents itself as illness may actually be more to do with a patient’s isolation, the need for a friend or a job, better housing or a more creative lifestyle. In such cases, attempts to find a magic pill or potion are inappropriate and a waste of resources; GPs and patients need our help.
In this new financial environment, there is an opportunity to begin to open up a more integrated and cost-
GP practices are anchors in local communities that could play an important role in the development of the big society. Four years ago, I was asked to intervene by the then CEO of the local authority in St Paul’s Way in Tower Hamlets, which is a single street in one of our most challenged housing estates. I am now leading the St Paul’s Way transformational project, so I declare an interest in this project, but I am pleased to say that it is fast becoming a pathfinder used to illustrate the benefits of joined-
The new focus on patient-
Unlike the initiatives of the previous Government where the state was encouraged to be joined up, my colleagues and I would suggest that the state will never be joined up and that the answer is to let communities and local organisations, such as GP practices, join up on local streets to deliver joined-
One answer is already there; namely, LIFT, the Local Improvement Finance Trust. We could do a great deal with this, but there is not time to go into the detail. I leave the Minister with one question: will he tell the House how he proposes to encourage GPs to take up the opportunities presented by the transfer of funding to GP practices? What is the Government’s plan for general practice to play in the creation of the big society?