Prevention better than cure, says Norfolk County Council, but opponents fear cuts

Shelagh Gurney. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Shelagh Gurney. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

A new drive to intervene early and prevent vulnerable Norfolk people from developing serious problems - while saving Norfolk County Council money - is set to be launched.

Mike Smith-Clare. Pic: Archant Library.

Mike Smith-Clare. Pic: Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

But opposition councillors say they fear the initiative could be used to mask cuts to frontline services.

The council's people and communities select committee is expected to this week back the launch of a new prevention strategy across three key departments - adult social service, children's services and public health.

The council wants to focus on investing in prevention because evidence shows it can stop people's problems becoming worse and save the authority money.

Conservative Shelagh Gurney, who chairs the committee, said: "Prevention is better than cure and the council already operates a range of successful schemes that help people to avoid developing more serious problems later.

Tim Adams. Pic: Archant Library.

Tim Adams. Pic: Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

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"I think the time has come to have a single strategy, that joins up our prevention services and enables them to make the biggest possible impact.

"Prevention is better for people and also better for the council, as it is more cost effective."

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A report which will come before councillors says initiatives such as reablement - helping people stay in their homes after illness or hospital stays - saves adult social services £4 for every £1 spent.

But opposition councillors have said the move should not be used as an excuse to cut frontline services.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Tim Adams said: "We very much agree with prevention being a key component of health and social care.

"Early interventions at the right time can be critical, and can prevent the storing of problems in the long-term that are costly in both financial and human terms.

"However, these words must be met with actions. Prevention should not simply be used as cover to deliver financial cuts in the form of reduced frontline services. My question has to be, what is tangibly going to change as a result of this strategy?"

Labour spokesman Mike Smith-Clare said: "It is clear from previous experience that Tory strategies are designed to either introduce cuts or impose thresholds that prevent people from actually receiving the help they so desperately require."

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