Comment: Work together is step in right direction

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CARING for our elderly, either in their own homes or in care facilities, is one of the biggest challenges facing health and council chiefs today.

There are also few more important tasks to get right.

The system as it stands clearly does not work. We have huge problems with so-called bed blocking as elderly patients are left to languish in hospital because there is nowhere for them to go. There are well-documented shortcomings with some of the care at home packages outsourced to agencies.

And with an ageing population, these are issues which are only going to become more pressing.

Today we have a move which may go some way to beginning to tackle the problem.

In theory, the NHS and the council pooling their health and social care budgets and working together instead of in their own interests should result in a more efficient and better service for both the taxpayer and the person in need of care.

Avoiding duplication, speeding up the process and removing any arguments over funding should all help improve the service and in turn relieve pressure on our 
already overstretched hospitals.

But that is not to say this is the complete answer or that the problem is going to go away overnight.

While many issues will be tackled, the fact remains that more investment is desperately needed to cope with the rising demand.

The system can be perfectly streamlined but without the funding to support it, the same pressures will continue.

Edinburgh has particular 
issues due to both the cost of property making the city unattractive for care home providers and the cost of living making it difficult to 
recruit staff.

These are things which need to be recognised by the Scottish 
Government when allocating funding.

Today certainly seems like a step in the right direction, but it is only the beginning.