Labour would remove responsibility for the local budget from CCGs, implementing a 'single access point', Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham announced yesterday.
According to Burnham, joining the budgets is the only way to met the “challenges of the future”, adding that we are currently operating on a 20th century model, with 21st century problems.
Echoing the thoughts of many GP leaders at the Commissioning Show in London, Burnham said physical, mental and social health issues should be dealt with together.
Responsibility for the budget would move towards the local council, instead of resting with CCGs as it does now.
Burnham said: “We need to build an alternative system together, which I based on the whole person. Can you imagine having just one point of contact for the health and social care system?
Professor Timothy Evans, from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Future Hospitals Commission agreed.
He said: “At the moment patients don't know where to go, or when to go. They do not know where primary care stops and hospital care begins!
“What the NHS needs is a single, coordinated access point. Once we establish what it is that primary care does, the hospital sector will fill in the gaps.”
But Michael Dixon president of NHS Clinical Commissioners said: “He [Burnham] will need to think carefully about the plans to have a merged budget for health and social care, given that CCGs are only two months old.
“It's obvious that frontline clinicians should be the commissioners, how else will we balance science with compassion?”
However the Shadow Health Secretary disagreed, saying that there is an “inherent conflict in interest” with GPs commissioning local healthcare, because of their role as providers.
He did acknowledge that Labour was in charge of the NHS reorganisation before this one, saying he is aware of a “wall of cynicism” around politicians proposing changes to the NHS.