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Social Care and Health Care

Volume 594: debated on Monday 16 March 2015

14. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on steps the Government are taking to improve co-ordination between social care and health care. (908060)

I meet my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health regularly. The better care fund—now increased to £5.3 billion by local authority partner contributions—will transform the way in which health and social care services are provided.

I have been out several times with social services in Gravesend and I have been very impressed by the way in which those individuals often go way beyond the call of duty, yet in the House and in the newspapers we hear about them only when things go wrong. Often, that is when there is a dispute between social care providers and health care providers about who is taking the lead. How will the better care fund help this situation?

I applaud the fact that my hon. Friend has been out there doing that. He is right to recognise the enormous contribution that social services and councils make to the well-being of elderly people. He is right to point out that in Kent £100 million has been pooled. This is about making sure that local authorities, GP practices and acute hospitals work together. Historically there have been silos; now it is about making sure that the individual person is right at the centre of these services and that those services work far more effectively and efficiently.

The Minister will know that plans to co-ordinate health and social care across Greater Manchester have moved very quickly. In fact, the memorandum of understanding describes the plans as “groundbreaking” and “unprecedented”. He will also be aware that the national health service is built on the collaboration and co-operation of patients, charities, community groups and the public. Given how important this deal is to the people of Greater Manchester, why did he decide not to involve a single one of those groups in this decision; and what ongoing role, if any, does he see for local communities?

I am sorry that the hon. Lady has missed the point. This is about devolving moneys to a council—in fact, a number of councils—that has the confidence to deliver services better and does not just look to Government to make decisions but stands up for people in its own community and wants to shape and deliver those services more effectively. Greater Manchester, through the devolution route it has followed, will deliver far more effective services. [Interruption.] The hon. Lady can shout as much she wants. The people of Manchester have taken control of delivering these services, and she is outside that network because she chooses to be there.

21. Given that local government is recognised as being the most efficient part of the public sector and that adult social care is one of the principal cost pressures on local authorities, are the Government not right to integrate in the way that is proposed in Greater Manchester rather than nationalise adult social care as proposed by the shadow Secretary of State? (908069)

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. People and GPs on the ground in communities, and people who are running acute hospitals and councils, know better than Government, regardless of which colour. Over the period of this Government, the number of people who are extremely or very satisfied with support of adult social care has increased from 62.8% to 64.8%. That is a direct consequence of local people on the ground taking control and delivering better services.