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.