Kathryn’s Blog

Integrated Public Services – a vision for health and social care services across the West Midlands

24th January 2020

Today I unveiled my bold new plans to both make public services better serve residents of the West Midlands at the same time as saving the public large sums of money.

If elected as mayor, I will be asking central government to give powers over both health and social care to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) so the two systems can be brought together to become more efficient, more responsive and to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.

This is already happening across Europe and there’s a growing consensus within the health and social care professions that it makes sense to join them up. The only thing standing in the way is the fear from our current politicians that they might not have the ability to make it work.

The current system is fragmented into a huge number of different bodies working in silos, and sometimes against each other. Closer working between GPs, hospitals and social work departments will give us the 21st-century service we need while saving a huge amount of money. We’ll see a healthier population as we enjoy economies of scale, shared administration and back-office services and everyone pulling together towards the same goal – along with giving residents of the West Midlands a greater say on their own public services.

But the benefits don’t just stop there. Imagine a world where you can access all of your essential services in one building; visit your GP, loan a book, find local job opportunities, sort out your housing, join a social club in the on-site café, talk to your parent’s social worker and more – all under one roof at the heart of the local community. With other essential public services such as our libraries struggling to survive in the West Midlands thanks to a decade of Conservative Party cuts, this is the only realistic way of improving services without spending more. And as we seek to rejuvenate high streets across the region, bringing public services together in one central place would help to bring more people into our towns, supporting regeneration.

The West Midlands Mayor can make this a reality, but such additional powers would need the mayor to be subject to more scrutiny and accountability to residents of the West Midlands, which is therefore another driver to reform the hugely undemocratic and unaccountable WMCA with far more public participation.