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Social Care Budget Changes

Volume 571: debated on Tuesday 26 November 2013

8. What assessment he has made of the effects of social care budget changes on attendances at accident and emergency departments. (901265)

Joining up health and social care is an absolute priority for this Government. The NHS will provide £900 million this year and £1.1 billion next year to support social care services with a health benefit and to promote joint working. In 2015-16, we will introduce a £3.8 billion pooled budget for health and social care. The number of bed days lost because of delays attributable to social care was nearly 50,000 lower in 2012-13 than it was in 2011-12.

In the first two years of this Government, there was a frightening 66% increase in the number of people aged 90 and over coming into accident and emergency in a blue-light ambulance. When will the Minister accept that cuts to elderly care have increased pressure on the NHS, and are a major cause of the A and E crisis?

First, it is worth us all recognising that there is an increase in the number of frail elderly people in our society living with chronic conditions and that that is putting additional pressure on accident and emergency departments. The numbers have increased by over a million a year since 2010. However, the fact that there has been a reduction of 50,000 in the number of delayed discharges demonstrates that the social care system is doing incredibly well, and we should pay tribute to social care workers across the system who are doing so well to ensure that that improvement is taking place.[Official Report, 4 December 2013, Vol. 571, c. 13MC.]

Bottlenecks in A and E are certainly not new, and they are not aided by the mantra that acute hospitals should be able to manage with fewer acute beds. On my hon. Friend’s point about shared and integrated planning, is he prepared to go further and push the Government in the direction of shared and integrated budgets as between health and social care?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. We are creating a pooled budget in 2015-16 with this £3.8 billion fund. I can remember in opposition frequently making the case for integrated care and not really getting much of a positive response from the then Government. As the Chair of the Select Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Mr Dorrell), said, the great thing is that this Government are actually doing it.