Around 30 members of the public joined Healthwatch Reading in marking our 5th year of providing a local service, as well as the 70th anniversary of the NHS, at our annual general meeting on 5 July 2018.
Councillor Tony Jones, the new lead member for adult social care, gave a keynote speech at the event, held at Reading Central Library.
Cllr Jones – who revealed he was born in Tredegar, the home town of NHS founder Nye Bevan – congratulated Healthwatch Reading on reaching its 5th birthday, especially as local services were vulnerable to cuts due to local authorities losing money from central government.
He added that he was disappointed that the government had not yet indicated if social care budgets would get a boost in the same way that extra NHS funding was promised through a ‘Brexit dividend’.
‘Unless you put money into social care, this isn’t going to work,’ as there were 18,000 people (across the country) waiting to be discharged from hospital, many waiting for care packages that would help them recover at home. Part of the issue was that ‘we all love and know about the health service but unless you know people who need social care, you probably haven’t heard about social care’.
Cllr Jones also told the meeting:
He thought the Royal Berkshire Hospital should be relocated to Green Park
The expense of living in Reading was making it difficult to recruit staff
There was a ‘responsibility on the NHS to become more transparent and more publicly accountable’
He wanted to explore the idea of more direct provision of care homes in Reading
He had a ‘healthy scepticism’ about the introduction of the Berkshire West Integrated Care System
Reading Borough Council might not be sustainable in its current form due to the funding cuts it had endured and it might need to ‘have some bravery’ and think about merging with other unitary authorities across Berkshire.