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Health and Social Care Integration

Volume 609: debated on Tuesday 10 May 2016

13. What support his Department is providing for meeting additional costs incurred by NHS providers in the integration of health and social care. (904949)

I concur with the remarks that the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), just made.

The Government recognise that the NHS and adult social care face significant demand pressures, and established the better care fund to join up health and care. In 2016-17, the BCF will be increased to a mandated minimum of £3.9 billion, with additional social care funding of £1.5 billion by 2019-20.

NHS Cornwall has a significant overspend in 2015-16 because of the cost of keeping people in acute hospitals rather than their being cared for in the community. Despite the commitment and enthusiasm in Cornwall to achieve meaningful integration of health and social care, the pressure on NHS Cornwall finances threatens this badly needed integration. Does the Minister agree that investment in this today will lead to significant savings for the future and better outcomes for patients?

I am aware of significant problems in Cornwall that a number of Members have brought to me, and they are very complex. The clinical commissioning group is building on existing work with NHS England to address the financial challenges facing NHS Kernow and the wider local health and care system. Statutory directions were put in place late last year to support the CCG’s work with local partners in ensuring that services are affordable as well as good. An independently led capability and capacity review is being completed and an action plan is being implemented. I encourage the CCG to continue to work closely with NHS England to help to put its finances on a firmer foundation to achieve its integration plans. There is a further meeting planned locally tomorrow.

We recently had a Westminster Hall debate on care workers not even being paid the national minimum wage, and now we have private social care providers saying that they will not be able to afford the new national living wage. How does the Department intend to address this impending crisis?

It is absolutely essential that workers are paid the national minimum wage, and for care workers that includes travel. The Department has been very clear in that regard. Extra money is being provided to local authorities to pay for social care, as we know, but matters are tight—I am well aware of that. We are looking to providers and local authority providers to meet their statutory obligations to ensure that hard-pressed care workers have the financial support they need to do their vital job.