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What did we learn from the Manifesto Marketplace?

Head of Monitoring Liz Silversmith checks out the election asks of Wales' health and social care organisations and identifies three common themes.

At this year’s Welsh political conferences, newsdirect was delighted to support Manifesto Marketplace – a collaboration between 26 health and social care organisations. It was a resounding success with candidates at each of the conferences meeting representatives from the organisations, hearing about their key asks and enjoying some much needed snacks mid-conference.

Everyone left with a bag stuffed full of organisations’ manifestos. Hopefully they provided some excellent bedtime reading but if not then don’t worry, we’re newsdirect. We read so you don’t have to.

We’ve combed through them all and actually found some consensus on what the public and third sector think the NHS and social care should look like over the next 5 years. Here are the highlights:

1)     Keep moving to integrated health and social care.

This is no great surprise but the current holy grail of NHS reform seems to be to fully integrate health and social care services into one streamlined machine. Co-production and collaboration are the watch words of 2016.

Crucially, this includes training of staff. For example, the Alzheimer’s Society, Action on Hearing Loss Cymru and RNIB Cymru are all calling for specific training for health care professionals to better enable them to take care of the vulnerable groups they represent. Dementia, hearing loss and sight loss are things often relegated to the social care sector, but the NHS is called upon to better train up their staff too.

These are predominantly for older people but the same asks are in place for children. Mind Cymru, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have similar calls for those who work with vulnerable children.

2)     Modernising services.

A key driver in many modernisation and reconfiguration initiatives is to get the NHS to take advantage of 21st century technology.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society actually had their ask delivered early. They called for “information technology systems to help pharmacists and GPs communicate more effectively” and the Welsh Government is already investing in IT systems that give pharmacists access to patient records to they can take on more minor ailments. This will hopefully shift pressure from GP surgeries.

RNIB Cymru calls for help for blind people in poverty who are “unable to purchase the technology which would enhance their independence.” And it’s not just for patients; BMA Cymru is calling for an effort to improve “the quality and accuracy of NHS data collection – particularly around workforce numbers and staff vacancies (which are not currently collected).”

3) Preventative healthcare.

‘Prudent’ and ‘preventative’ also crop up repeatedly. Organisations know that money is tight but if you can prove those funds will prevent people entering hospital; help people recover at home; or enable independence then bids for funding are much more likely to be successful. This is why the Intermediate Care Fund (ICF), which helps older people to stay in their homes and out of the NHS, is so popular across the political spectrum. This is delivered by local authorities and the WLGA has called for the establishment of a Preventative Integrated Care Fund, presumably putting the ICF on a permanent footing.

The Welsh NHS Confederation takes a public health angle on this, declaring that the NHS ought to be “investing in prevention and early intervention to support and maintain people’s well-being” and therefore “empowering and informing people to take responsibility for their own health.” They note that 20% of adults still smoke and 40% are drinking over their recommended guidelines at least once a week. Whilst obesity is the growing threat to future sustainability, drinking and smoking are still rife.

And finally, an interesting collaborative manifesto between allied health professionals (including the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists, College of Occupational Therapists, College of Paramedics and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) describe the combined workforce as “essential to delivering preventative and admission avoidance services”. They point to community-based services and early intervention as integral to this. Presumably there are many things that a doctor can diagnose but actually do little about; a physiotherapist or a language therapist may be what you need.

newsdirect wales is a bespoke political monitoring service. Many of our clients are health and social care organisations like those above who receive our daily and weekly political briefings tailored to their interests. If you'd like to know more about how newsdirect can help you and your team as we enter the Fifth National Assembly, email

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