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Health And Personal Social Services

Volume 973: debated on Thursday 8 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his analysis of the comment by the office of health economics that current inadequacies in the health and social services are likely to get worse, in the light of the Government's own public spending restrictions, particularly with regard to the effects upon the highly cost effective domiciliary support services.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to comments in the recent office of health economics publication "Dementia in Old Age" and the accompanying press statement, relating to the level of service provision for the elderly severely mentally infirm. I recognise that there are deficiencies in these services, but the country has to live within its means. The needs of this group were taken into account in the previous Administration's plans for health spending, which we have said we shall maintain. Whilst some reduction in expenditure on the personal social services is unavoidable, each local authority must decide its own allocation in the light of local needs and conditions. I would expect them to make savings in ways that, as far as possible, protect the most vulnerable groups, and take account of the cost-effectiveness of various forms of provision.