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Service users must play their part says Hunt

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has 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 and in using finite NHS resources.

He argued that whilst 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.

Hunt explained that by the end of this Parliament we will have a million more over 70s, one third of them living alone. He said that the health and social care system must do a much better job of looking after them, but citizens must also play their part too.

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, this strategy 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?