News story

New social contract between the public, health and care services

Health Secretary says to deliver the highest standards of health and care, people who use those services need to play their part.

Jeremy Hunt today called for a new social contract between the public, health and care services.

In a speech to the Local Government Association (LGA) annual conference in Harrogate the Health Secretary urged the public to take more personal responsibility:

  • for looking after the elderly
  • for their own health
  • in using finite NHS resources

He argued that, while integration of health and social care is vital to delivering the highest standards of health and care, personal responsibility needs to sit alongside system accountability.

Jeremy Hunt said:

By the end of this Parliament we will have a million more over 70s, one third of them living alone. Yes the health and social care system must do a much better job of looking after them. But so too must all of us as citizens as well.

On taking personal responsibility for our own health, he said:

The best person to prevent a long term condition developing is not the doctor – it’s you.

On using NHS resources responsibly, he said that proper funding for all public services depends on a strong economy and personal responsibility:

We are insisting on a laser-like focus from the hospital sector to make sure every penny counts for patients.

But there is a role for patients here too. There is no such thing as a free health service: everything we are proud of in the NHS is funded by taxpayers, and every penny we waste costs patients more through higher taxes or reduced services.

He also announced that Minister for Care Services Alistair Burt will develop a new carers’ strategy to support both existing and new carers.

By looking at best practice from around UK and the world, it will seek to answer the big question: what do we need to do as a society to support people who are caring now, and crucially, for the millions who will have a caring role in the future?

Read the full speech.