Public Meeting on Health & Social Care

Health & Social Care – Report from the Public Meeting held by Liberal Vannin on March 27th, 2023

Lawrie Hooper, Liberal Vannin Party Leader and Minister for Health & Social Care opened the meeting by declaring that the next few years would be a time for consolidation for Manx Care and his Department. He said that he had secured additional resources to help with reducing waiting times for hospital appointments and that Manx Care was operating within agreed budgets. However, he later went on to say that public expectations and demographic changes meant that Health & Social Care services on the Island were still under-funded, and that government needed to recognise that and be prepared to raise additional finance in order to meet demand.

Teresa Cope, CEO of Manx Care outlined the measures being taken to improve staff recruitment and retention levels. She said that around 20% of front-line posts were currently vacant and using agency staff to provide essential services was financially draining and unsustainable.

Lee Clarke-Vorster, Chair of the Health Services Consultative Committee, said that he had initially been sceptical about the establishment of Manx Care, but was now impressed with the way the organisation was responding to the challenges that it faced.

Maureen Cowbourne, CEO of Age Concern, questioned that and said that the everyday experience of many elderly people was one of difficulty in accessing primary care and that GP practices needed to take into account their elderly patients and make it easier to get face-to-face appointments.

Questions from the audience echoed that and the status of GP Practices as private companies was criticised, with welcome for a move to make GPs and their staff direct employees of Manx Care, starting with Ballasalla Group Practice.

Annabel Ennett, Head of Services at Isle Listen said that she was encouraged by recent partnership arrangements with Manx Care, but stressed that waiting times for young people to access mental health services are far too long and she regretted that Isle Listen only have the resources to support people under 25.

There was also a call for more joined up government to help carers who have to juggle between working and the benefits system to provide enough income to continue their role. Carers indirectly save the taxpayer money, by ensuring that those they care for are less in need of health and social care services.

David Hamilton, Interim Executive Director of Social Care at Manx Care, said that he was keen to develop closer relationships with care providers and individual carers to ensure better integration between health and social care in the future.

The financing of Manx Care was criticised by some, with suggestions that taxpayers are not getting value for money and that money allocated for some projects was inadequately monitored and not cost-effective. In particular, it was felt that GP Practices were being subsidised by Manx Care for little benefit. Teresa Cope defended that by explaining that the additional funding was explicitly made to allow GPs and other health professionals in Group Practices to work more flexibly across Manx Care to help with waiting list backlogs.

The question of the effectiveness of lockdowns and other measures during the Covid Pandemic was raised, but questioners were referred to the review being undertaken.

Overall, the view from the meeting was one of cautious optimism that health and social care services could be turned round from the difficult years of Covid and the staffing issues and cultural problems within the department, exemplified by recent legal proceedings involving some anaesthetists and the former Medical Director. However, Minister Hooper stressed that continuous improvement at the level the public desires can only be achieved by continual improvement in funding and that he was determined to make the case for that within the Council of Ministers.

For further information, please contact Paul Weatherall, Chair Liberal Vannin – 07624 479436

On Monday, March 27th, Liberal Vannin’s Leader and Member of the Council of Ministers, Lawrie Hooper, MHK, Minister for Health & Social Care will be leading a discussion on the developing policy framework for the Island’s Health & Social Care services.

He will be joined on the panel by:

Teresa Cope, Chief Executive of Manx Care

Maureen Cowbourne, Chief Executive Officer, Age Concern

Annabel Ennett, Head of Services, Isle Listen

David Hamilton, Interim Executive Director of Social Care, Manx Care

Lee Clarke-Vorster, Chair of the Health Services Consultative Committee

Our health & social care services face many challenges and the future direction of travel is of concern to most if not everyone on the Island.

Liberal Vannin believes that everyone is entitled to an excellent standard of health care, free at the point of use and that it is essential that funding continues to be sufficient, in order to provide that.

Integrating health and social care services has been talked about for long enough and we expect steps to be put in place during this administration to see a clear way forward.

We hope to see as many as possible come along to the Manx Legion Club, Douglas at 7.30pm on Monday, March 27th to make your views heard.