Health and social care must merge, says Wales ombudsman Peter Tyndall

The way health and social care is delivered outside hospital must be radically transformed, a watchdog says.

Public Services Ombudsman Peter Tyndall said the system is too complex and wants one body to manage services, calling on Health Minister Mark Drakeford to review home care services.

Mr Tyndall says that it puts huge stress on families and carers whether they are looked after at home or a nursing care home.

“We need to be much better at delivering integrated packages of care than we are at the moment and that will need structural change,” he said.

“Many more people are living in the community and receiving support – particularly older people.

“Often that support is coming from private or voluntary bodies; on the other hand, you have nursing care from the district nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists and so on.

“We need to look at that as a single joined-up entity instead of the fragmentation we currently have.

“It’s all very well to say to people to share budgets and so on, but why do you have separate budgets in the first place?

“Why do you have separate agencies in the first place? I think that’s a historical accident and it needs to be corrected.”

Mr Tyndall said the the current system puts pressure on the health service as a whole.

“It has an effect all the way back to accident and emergency because if people are occupying beds in wards needed by people in A&E then people are waiting to get into A&E to be seen.”

Mr Tyndall spoke to BBC Wales ahead of his departure from the post next week after being appointed as Ireland’s Ombudsman and Information Commissioner.

A Welsh government spokesperson said both the health minister Mark Drakeford and the deputy minister for social services have stated an intention to create “fully integrated health and social services”.

The spokesperson added: “A significant amount of work is taking place in this area as a result, including consultation over the summer on how we can meet the health and social care needs of older people with complex needs.

“Our draft budget for 2014-15 includes proposals to establish a £50m Intermediate Care Fund, which will support collaborative working between social services, health and housing.

“It will be used to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions, or inappropriate admission to residential care, as well as preventing delayed discharges from hospital.

“The aim will be to support people to maintain their independence and remain in their own home, as well as ensuring beds are available for those people who really need them.

“The solution does not lie in structural change but in encouraging people and organisations to work collaboratively,” the spokesperson added.