The Isle of Man’s health and social care system is totally unaffordable and change has to happen.
That’s the message from Health Minister Howard Quayle MHK as he prepares to present a five-point strategy to this month’s Tynwald sitting.
The strategy, which involves integrating services and helping people stay well in their own homes where possible, rather than in a costly hospital bed, follows a controversial fact-finding trip to New Zealand in the spring to see the Canterbury model of integrated care.
Mr Quayle said his team had benefited from studying improvements made by other care systems but had no need to copy them. He said: ‘Elements are based on the New Zealand model, Spain and Torbay but made relevant for the Isle of Man. This is not a cut and paste job.’
The Health Minister said his department spends £184m net a year – but that the tax take from residents’ personal taxation is just £178m. ‘It’s a totally unaffordable health and social care system,’ he said. ‘The Isle of Man is not unique in this. Change has to happen.’
The document sets out five strategic goals. People should be in charge of their own health, with an emphasis placed on good lifestyle choices and illness prevention.
People will be helped to stay well in their own homes and communities, avoiding hospital or residential care whenever possible. This will require closer integration of community services, to treat people as complete individuals, and more partnership with third sector and faith groups. More sheltered accommodation, fit for purpose, will be built.
Services for people who really do need care in hospital also need to be improved, by modernising procedures, using telemedicine and ensuring pathways to specialised care from UK centres when it is not available on-island.
Safeguards will be provided for people who cannot protect themselves, ensuring vulnerable children and adults are supported and creating more foster care.
The fifth and final goal is to ensure that people receive good value health and social care, making better use of staffing, innovation and technology to generate significant efficiency and productivity savings.
Subject to Tynwald approval of the strategy, the next stage will be for each division to produce its own more detailed document. ‘We have the basic framework but we need to go out to the public and ask what health service they want,’ said Mr Quayle, who insisted the strategy goals were ‘practical and realistic’.
He said legislation was being taken forward to tackle bed-blocking by long-term patients. It is understood there had been one patient on a ward in Noble’s for two years.