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£2 billion ‘not enough’ for 750,000 population, but more money not the answer to Lincolnshire healthcare woes – public health director





The solution to Lincolnshire’s healthcare problems is not as simple as investing more money into the system, it has been claimed.

Instead, it’s about using resources more wisely and listening to the needs of individual people, according to the county’s public health director.

At the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire on Wednesday, county councillors put questions to Derek Ward, the local director for public health, regarding his annual county report — focusing on ageing better in Lincolnshire.

Lincolnshire director of public health, Derek Ward. Photo: Ellis Karran
Lincolnshire director of public health, Derek Ward. Photo: Ellis Karran

As the county’s ageing population continues to grow, the public health onus was placed on how the system can best support the community and prolong the years of healthy living.

However, the stark reality of healthcare budgets took centre stage at the meeting.

Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board’s budget for the coming year stands at £1.6 billion according to the county’s public health director Derek Ward.

Inside the council chamber at the LCC Health Scrutiny meeting. Photo: Ellis Karran
Inside the council chamber at the LCC Health Scrutiny meeting. Photo: Ellis Karran

Some £220 million has been allocated for social care by Lincolnshire County Council, and a similar amount will go towards supporting external specialist services.

This brings the overall financing of Lincolnshire’s wider health and social care system to around £2 billion for a county with a population of 768,364 (Census, 2021).

The eye-watering total works out at over £2,600 per person in Lincolnshire, and the director for public health says it might be time for “honest conversations” around the current model of healthcare.

“We’re probably spending £2 billion for around 750,000 people in Lincolnshire and it’s still not enough,” Derek Ward told the Health Scrutiny Committee.

Do we want to spend more, and can we afford it? Or, are we going to grasp that metal and handle it differently? That is the big question of the next decade.”

He goes on to say that the health service must “work with the population” and find out what individuals want, before finding out how that can be implemented effectively.

Coun Mark Allan (Conservative) asked if any of Lincolnshire’s public health plans could be successfully delivered “with the current state of the National Health Service.”

Derek Ward’s response was clear: “Yes, absolutely. I wouldn’t do this job if I didn’t think I could deliver it.

“But, the idea that we can do it in the current model is wrong. We need to redesign the model of health and care, right through from government to individual people supporting each other.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Ward said it’s “about doing things differently for the people of Lincolnshire.”

“It’s a national debate and probably an international debate, especially coming off the back of a once in a generation pandemic, we have to rethink how we deliver health and care services.

“You start putting it all together and it’s a lot of money. I think one of the conversations we need to have as a country is do we want to increase the money, decrease the amount, or keep it the same?

“But regardless of the answer to that question, we’re going to have to change how we deliver our services, and we have to help people understand how to get the most out of those services.”

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The public health lead believes it’s important to be smart with budgets around health and care, saying “you don’t get a Formula 1 mechanic” to do an MOT on your car, and it is the same when it comes to healthcare.

“We often go to our GPs, who are hugely trained experts, for things that really are what they would call self-limiting. Of course, that’s a huge cost, but the difference is you aren’t paying for a GP visit there and then, because it comes out of fundamental taxation.

“That’s one of the challenges, how do we help people get the support they need, while using the resources in a better way.”



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