The Herald

Cutting deep


THE full irony of your report (March 3) about funding cuts in community health is that they are happening in the face of a welter of public policy initiative­s which argue that the opposite should happen.

Shifting the balance of care towards more primary and community support has been endorsed by politician­s and profession­als as the only realistic strategy for the future of our health services. There is an explicit acceptance that the “third sector” – voluntary organisati­ons, charities and social enterprise­s – need to be brought in from the periphery to the mainstream as part of the service mix in the future.

Public health, community support for people with long-term conditions, care and support for the elderly, and the promotion of self-help are all meant to be service priorities.

The plight of so many community health projects illustrate­s well the gap between rhetoric and reality. Shortterm funding of community services is a poor investment and no substitute at all for the embedded strategies that are needed to promote healthier lifestyles and reduce inappropri­ate hospital admissions. NHS managers need to do better than this if the vision of a more relevant and community-based service in the future is to be achieved. Martin Sime, Chief Executive, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisati­ons, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh.

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