Why new Cabinet member has an insight into challenges facing disabled people
As the new man in charge of health and social care at Sheffield Council, George Lindars-Hammond has a good understanding of the difficulties faced by disabled people.
This is because he has had hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, since birth and it limits the use of one side of his body.
“It gives me an insight into some parts of the health system,” he said.
“It also gives me links with disabled communities in Sheffield and I understand people’s struggles with the system in a much more real way.”
George, who has been a Hillsborough councillor for seven years, is passionate about his new cabinet position and barely pauses for breath as he talks about what needs to be done.
“I am indignant about the way a lot of disabled people are treated. Disabled people are in a more disadvantaged position because of something we can’t help and we are the worst recipients of benefit cuts and service cuts.
“Some of the people I know desperately want to be in work but any support given to help them achieve that has been cut.
“A lot of disabled people don’t have control over their lives in the way they would want to and it’s really important to change that. If we don’t have control over our life, it’s not really living.”
His remit covers adult social care, one of the biggest costs to the council but also one which politicians have pledged to protect in the face of austerity.
“Every cabinet member has a different challenge and mine is unlikely to be the most politically controversial,” he said.
“However, the key overriding problem is the funding crisis which is preventing us from doing what we want to do and putting our services at risk and my portfolio is at the heart of that.
“I want to do everything I possibly can to ease that financial strain but at the same time this is a national crisis that is being borne locally.
“We can’t fix these problems when the money required is from government intervention, but I also can’t just sit and wait for the government to make that change.”
While the NHS has received extra money, adult social care is still the poor relation which has prompted council and health bosses to reassess how they work together.
“There is less money spent on social care than added investment in the NHS,” he says.
“For the NHS to succeed, it’s not about the total amount of money it has, it’s about reducing the pressures on it.
“Because of the poor system with social care, the NHS is swallowing up the money – if you could sort social care, NHS funding would be a lot more effective.
“We have a plan that can change the way health and care is delivered. We can, off our own backs, make a massive difference to the way people stay independent, safe and healthy by allowing a lot more care near where they live.
“We can do a lot to integrate health and social care and joint commission services and that can make a huge difference and reduce pressures.”
One of the key issues is bed blocking and helping people stay at home longer, and return back home quicker after a hospital stay.
“Social care is the front and exit door to the NHS and a lot of people remain in hospital against their own – and their doctor’s – wishes because there is nowhere else to go.
“We have had a long problem with delayed transfers of care and we are doing a lot of things to make sure people can be appropriately looked after in their home, which is what most people want.
“Hospitals are fantastic for clinical care but so many people are receiving hospital care when they don’t need it. It’s about helping people stopping from getting into a crisis in the first place.”