Debate: ‘The Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care—Interim Report’

Diolch yn fawr, Dirprwy Lywydd. I would also like to welcome this work done by Ruth Hussey and the expert team. I think it’s clear that, if we look at the ageing population, more of the same is simply unsustainable, and I think that’s what really comes out in this report. That further integration of health and social care is something I think that most people now accept. It has simply got to happen.

It’s clear that prevention has got to take centre stage, and we’ve all got to be encouraged to take more responsibility for looking after ourselves. I’m delighted that the report asks for new models to be trialled across Wales. There’s already great work being done and I think it’s really important that we recognise that. I went to an extra-care home in Newtown in Powys recently, partly financed by the Welsh Government—an excellent example. More of that is the kind of thing we want to see. That’s an expensive model; there will be other models that we need to look at. But it’s an opportunity for us to road test some radical new ideas.

Can I welcome the fact that the review is also sensitive to the fact that delivery will be different in different parts of Wales, and that the Welsh language needs of older people in particular need to be taken into account?

Dawn has talked a lot about the need for skills in the workforce, and for that workforce to be recognised and appreciated. Unless we really address that issue I think we are going to see that continuous revolving door of unskilled workers in our care service, and that is not something either that is sustainable. So, at some point we have to talk about financing those people properly.

The key thing to remember is that it’s got to be people centred. The end user has got to be centre stage here. We heard this afternoon of the national strategy ‘Prosperity for All’, and the need for an innovative care model in the community. There is one area that I think is missing from the report—and I understand why it wasn’t part of their remit—and that is housing. Unless we get the housing right, I think it’s going to be really difficult for us to look after the care needs of our public. So, we need to somehow, at some stage, pleat housing into this discussion, and then we can build an economic development strategy on the back of that as well, with the whole skills agenda to go behind that. I think that’s really important for us to keep an eye on.

But at some point we have to have a conversation with the public about, actually, first of all, what is the current situation. Because most people walk into a care home and are quite surprised to find a £700 a week cheque being demanded of them. They’re not aware of that. We have to tell them what the current situation is and then have a conversation about what they’d like it to look like in future. We’ve got to be brave about this. We’ve absolutely got to be brave. And one of the things that’s really heartened me this afternoon is the fact that, actually, we’ve heard really constructive suggestions from all parties. Unless we work together on this, I think the people of Wales will not forgive us, because if we get this wrong, if we don’t address this, it’ll be our neighbours, our family, our friends who will pay the price, and they won’t forgive us. So, we’ve got an opportunity here to take a lead in Wales, to do something before the rest of the United Kingdom, but the only way this is going to work is if we work together and that we’re brave and we’re honest with the people of Wales about what needs to happen. At some point, that conversation needs to be also about what they can contribute. It’s partly about carers, and us helping carers, but it may be at some point a financial discussion that we may need to have. We started the NHS; it was in Wales that that was started. My dream is to see a national care service developed in Wales as well, and I think together we can make that happen.