The COVID-19 pandemic offers a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to bring about long overdue reform and modernisation of health and social care, according to a Scottish Parliament Committee.
In a new report, the Health and Sport Committee recommend that social care should be separated and given its own dedicated parliamentary committee, while the progress towards the integration of health and social care was criticised.
“The integration of health and social care has been slow and inconsistent with many of those responsible for delivering change showing a lack of urgency or of commitment to permanent and radical reform,” the committee said.
The report also highlights the “almost complete lack of meaningful data capture” which pervades the whole health and care system.
It says that few IT systems across the sector “speak to each other”, making it “impossible” to evaluate outcomes and drive positive change for patients.
Lewis Macdonald MSP, Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, said: “We’ve seen more rapid change in the last few months due to the pandemic than we’ve seen in many years, but there is still so much more to be done. Across the sector, everyone agrees that integration of health and care is the way forward but progress has been chronically slow.
“Our Committee is frustrated that despite repeated promises over the last five years to modernise and improve IT systems, which would allow for better data sharing and improved service across the health service, nothing useful to users has been delivered.
“We have been struck in a number of our inquiries by a lack of leadership across the public sector, barring a few notable exceptions and real leadership is what we will need if we are to see the systemic change required.”
He added: “We’d like to put on record our thanks to the many skilled and devoted staff across health and care services for all that they do, and for their heroic efforts during this pandemic.
“We are calling on those responsible not to miss this golden opportunity to deliver a modern and fit for purpose NHS which can embrace innovation and meet the challenges of the 21st century. It’s what those who deliver and receive care deserve.”