MAJOR changes on the way to health funding next year should pave the way for a radical shake-up of care for older and vulnerable adults, according to a leading regional care leader.

April sees the introduction of GP-led clinical commissioning groups who will manage NHS budgets and replace primary care trusts.

And the Independent Care Group says the moment should be seized as an opportunity for radical new thinking on care.

York and North Yorkshire chair Mike Padgham said: “We are hearing of huge financial problems for NHS North Yorkshire and York and nationally hospital trusts are struggling to cope with full beds.

“This doesn’t come as a surprise as far too many older and vulnerable people are in hospital when they could and should be getting cared for at home. Care homes also have a vital role to play in helping to keep people out of hospital.”

He added: “The creation of the new clinical commissioning groups provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a fresh look at how we provide care for one of the most vulnerable groups in society.

“If you switch the emphasis and the funding from treating people in hospital to social care, you not only slash NHS hospital spending, you also give people a better quality of life and their independence.”

He said such action needed a mind-set change and a desire to divert funding from other parts of the NHS into social care, enabling more people to receive the care they need either in their own homes or care homes, freeing up expensive hospital beds.

“Instead we have a situation where, through a lack of money, people commissioning social care are actually cutting back on the care they provide, which is only going to make a bad situation even worse.”