Labour health secretary Andy Burnham warns of NHS winter crisis

Shadow secretary of health Andy Burnham MP with Labour party candidate for Finchley and Golders Gree

Shadow secretary of health Andy Burnham MP with Labour party candidate for Finchley and Golders Green Sarah Sackman at the Jewish Care campus in Golders Green. Picture: Blake Ezra - Credit: � Blake Ezra Photography Ltd. 2013.

The shadow health secretary has warned elderly residents of a potential winter crisis in the NHS and has called on communities in Camden to strengthen their “self-support” to help cope with the “whittling away” of social care.

Andy Burnham MP delivered the stark warning during a visit to the Jewish Care Maurice and Vivienne Wohl centre in Golders Green Road, Golders Green, last Thursday.

Shown around the centre’s “community focused” facilities - including a hair salon, art studio and kosher internet cafe - Mr Burnham said: “We’ve had major reductions in nurse numbers throughout the country as well as the closure of walk-in centres and A&Es across London.

“On top of everything else, people are struggling to pay their heating bills.

“It’s a very worrying picture and I think the NHS is going into this winter worse prepared than last winter.

“If we’re going to meet the challenges of this century we’re going to have to help communities look after themselves better.

“There are 3,600 volunteers attached to Jewish Care, many of them young people.

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“That shows incredible community strength and that here care homes aren’t thought of as ‘out of sight and out of mind’.

“The future has got to be about building this sense of self-support.”

His warning came just days before statistics were released by the Department of Health showing a 25 per cent spike in the number of people treated for hypothermia across the country compared to the previous year.

While discussing with Mr Burnham Labour’s aspirations to rectify the issue by “integrating social care with the NHS”, chief executive of Jewish Care Simon Morris said: “We are all living longer, our care needs are often greater and these are often intertwined with our health needs.

“Long gone are the days when you can conveniently fit people’s needs into a box and deliver a one sized fits all approach to health or social care.

“We believe that our clients would benefit greatly for a more joined up approach to health and social care on a local and national level and welcome any initiatives that support this.”

Opened in 2010, the centre provides integrated care and support for vulnerable members of the Jewish community.

Services on the campus include independent living apartments for the elderly, a nursing and dementia care home and a community centre providing a varied programme of activities.