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Care Standards

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

In recognition of the challenges presented by an ageing society, the Government are committed to fundamental reform of the adult social care and support system. We intend to hold a national consultation, which will lead to the publication of a Green Paper, to identify options for a new system that will be fair to all and sustainable for the long term.

I understand that the first consultation meeting on the Green Paper will take place next week. Will the Secretary of State ensure that one of the key considerations will be the interface between the national health service and social services, particularly when assessments are required for conditions such as incontinence or for the care package? Will the Secretary of State make a point of asking Members of the House for their experience around that interface? Perhaps he could publish a list of Labour and Opposition Members interested enough to respond to that consultation.

My hon. Friend is right; the interface will be a crucial element of the exercise. We need to knit adult social care, local authorities and the NHS much more closely together. That is happening in many parts of the world, and my hon. Friend should take credit for what he has done in Nottingham. In the meantime, £510 million is available for the adult social care grant and it is specifically to encourage much greater integration in the next three years. The review is more long term, but we have immediate action and resources to back it up.

One of the issues in respect of standards of care relates to people with dementia. Is the Secretary of State aware of the butterfly scheme, which is being trialled in Leeds? It was the brainchild of my constituent Mrs. Barbara Hodkinson, and it has been extremely successful in allowing patients to be identified without stigmatisation and allowing their care needs to be addressed. Does he agree that we should roll the scheme out nationally? Will he or the Minister with responsibility for care come to Leeds to speak to Mrs. Hodkinson and Sister Christine Tall, who implemented the scheme, to see whether it could improve standards for dementia sufferers nationally?

I am aware of the important butterfly scheme in Leeds, and I would be pleased to nip over from Hull to Leeds to see it. It is an important part of how we can make progress, deal with the issue and use best practice to develop our strategy on that debilitating disease.

There tends to be a lack of uniformity in the care provided by child and adolescent mental health services and in the standardisation of and access to services across the UK. Is it not time that we had a more standard service so that young people who are at the difficult transition into adulthood and face mental health problems, and their parents, could access a service that catered for people aged up to 25, rather than 16, 17 or 18?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right; a review on that specific issue is under way at the moment. The Green Paper and the public debate cannot be only about adult social care for older people, which was the subject of the 2006 Wanless review; they have to embrace the entire adult population. That is not least because, as I know from my own constituency casebook, many people are alive today who would previously probably not have survived childhood. Such people need far greater care. That must be integrated into the social care system and it is a very important part of the review.

In seconding the proposition made by the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mrs. Moon), may I put it to the Secretary of State that the requirement for joined-up and continuing care is marked among those on the autistic spectrum? The right hon. Gentleman will know that I and others are looking at provision for children and young people from birth to age 19. However, there is also a significant issue for the Government in respect of assisting people well beyond age 19—sometimes throughout life—as they negotiate the difficulties that they encounter. Such people have the opportunity, if helped, to contribute to the country through employment. However, they do need some help.

The hon. Gentleman has taken a huge interest in these issues and is doing some very good work on speech and language therapy. I completely agree with him. This whole area would probably not have been very high up the political agenda as recently as 10 years ago, but it is now much more of a crucial issue. That is why announcements on it will be made very shortly, not least for the reason that he touched on—that there is such a huge waste of talent out there because we consign these young people to being the passive recipients of benefits for the rest of their lives instead of using the opportunity to make them active citizens in our society.