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Non-hospital Care

Volume 602: debated on Tuesday 17 November 2015

The Government are committed to transforming out-of-hospital care for everyone, in every community, by 2020. We have seen excellent progress in areas led by integration pioneers, such as South Devon and Torbay. My hon. Friend’s own area also has in place a number of initiatives, such as the community treatment team and intensive rehabilitation service, which is rated very highly in her local community.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that elderly people deteriorate rapidly and lose their independence skills when they are admitted to hospital. What discussions have been held with local authorities to ensure that there is an adequate supply of carers to enable older people to remain in their homes whenever possible?

I meet regularly, as does the Department, with our partners in the provision of social care. A new recruitment and retention strategy has been launched by the Department of Health and Skills for Care on how to ensure more care is provided by more skilled and more valued workers in the home environment. My hon. Friend is right to raise this issue.

The ResPublica report, “The Care Collapse”, states that our residential care sector is in crisis. It says:

“Providers are being faced with an unsustainable combination of declining real terms funding, rising demand for their services, and increasing financial liabilities.”

It also states that a £1 billion funding gap in older people’s residential care would result in the loss of 37,000 care beds, which is more than in the Southern Cross collapse. No private sector provider has the capacity to take in residents and cover the lost beds, so those older people will most likely end up in hospital. What is the Minister doing to protect the care sector from catastrophic collapse?

As the House is aware, social care is a matter of great importance as we head towards the spending review round. We are aware of pressures in the system, and there is always contingency planning to identify particular problems. We are working hard with the National Care Association to improve the quality of care provided by the sector, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has commissioned Paul Johnson, of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, to look at pressures in the care home sector and how to ensure that we can meet the challenges. If challenges require more money, which they always seem to do according to the hon. Lady, she needs to come up with ideas for how to provide that money, but she never does. It is the Government’s responsibility to meet those challenges within the context of the overall economic position.