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Social Care

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to ensure that voluntary, private and public providers of care receive the same levels of fee and remuneration for publicly-funded care places. (85864)

The principles for contracting for care services set out in “Building Capacity and Partnerships in Care” include fairness to all service providers and the encouragement of fair competition.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people employed in the care of elderly and vulnerable people in West Lancashire have subsequently been found to have criminal records and to be unsuitable for such employment; and what steps she has taken to remedy this situation; (83460)

(2) what steps her Department takes to ensure that private companies providing care in West Lancashire for (a) the elderly and (b) vulnerable adults ensure that all their employees are checked by the Criminal Records Bureau before commencing employment.

I understand from the Criminal Records Bureau that figures for people with criminal records found to be unsuitable for employment in the care of elderly and vulnerable people specifically in West Lancashire are not available.

The Criminal Records Bureau estimates that in 2005 some 25,000 unsuitable people were prevented from working with children and vulnerable adults as a direct result of Criminal Record Bureau checks.

All care homes, domiciliary care agencies, adult placements schemes and nurses agencies in England are regulated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), which is the independent regulator for social care. The CSCI is responsible for registering and inspecting the regulated social care sector in accordance with statutory regulations and national minimum standards to ensure consistency and improve the quality of life and level of protection for the most vulnerable people in society.

Regulated social care providers are required to conduct rigorous pre-employment checks on prospective staff including obtaining a Criminal Records Bureau Disclosure. Since 26 July 2004, there has also been a requirement for prospective employees in these areas to be checked against the protection of vulnerable adults list before starting work.

The CSCI takes appropriate enforcement action where there is a breach of the regulations.

Information about the reasons for enforcement action by the CSCI is not collected centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she (a) is taking and (b) plans to take to ensure that people who have (i) multiple sclerosis and (ii) other long-term and fluctuating conditions receive access to social care at an early stage in the progression of their condition. (86235)

The national service framework for long-term conditions, published in March 2005, has as a key quality requirement the need to ensure people living with long-term conditions are offered a timely integrated assessment of their individual health and social care needs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment she has made of the uniformity of access to social care in different parts of the country. (86238)

The Department has not made any recent assessment of the uniformity of access to social care in different parts of the country. Fair access to care services (FACS) is designed to deliver uniformity of access within council areas, not between councils. Decisions about eligibility for services are made by individual councils in response to local need and according to criteria set out in the FACS guidance “Fair Access to Care Services Guidance on Eligibility Criteria for Adult Social Care”. The guidance is contained in local authority circular (2002)13 and available on the Department's website at: www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/01/96/41/04019641.pdf

A copy has been placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will increase the amount spent on equipment used by social care workers to care for individuals with (a) multiple sclerosis and (b) other conditions resulting in mobility problems. (86239)

It is for primary care trusts and councils to decide, locally, how best to allocate resources and provide appropriate mobility equipment for their population.