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Health and Social Care: Plymouth

Volume 615: debated on Tuesday 11 October 2016

2. If he will visit Plymouth to discuss how its city council has pooled health and social care budgets. (906490)

Plymouth has gone further and faster in integrating health and social care than many parts of the country have done. The integrated fund that it has set up covers housing and leisure as well as health and care. I would be delighted to visit Plymouth and to learn more about how the fund is working in practice.

As my hon. Friend points out, Plymouth has taken innovative steps to try to address some of the funding inequalities at play within the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon clinical commissioning group. However, between the calculated spend and the actual spend, there is a funding shortfall of £30 million. Will he agree to work with local MPs, stakeholders and those involved in the wider Devon sustainability and transformation plan to develop a written agreement to address these inequalities?

My hon. Friend refers to the time lag that can exist between target and actual funding. When I visit, I will be delighted to meet stakeholders not only to understand the allocation issues to which he refers but to congratulate the health and social care leadership on the progress they have made with their fund and on the above-average satisfaction ratings that have been achieved in Plymouth.

12. When the Minister is in Devon, will he meet patients’ groups and NHS staff, who are very worried about the proposals under the Government’s Orwellian Success regime, which include the closure of scores of community hospital beds, including the only community hospital beds in Exeter at Whipton hospital? Although it may make sense to integrate, and it certainly makes sense to move money from beds and buildings to better care for people in their homes, does he accept that it is simply not deliverable against a backdrop of massive cuts in social care budgets? (906501)

Yes, I am happy to meet in that context. The right hon. Gentleman is right that the Success regime is about a transfer of resources from the community hospitals to care at home and domiciliary care. That is not necessarily the wrong thing to do, but it must be done right, and I am happy to meet.

I welcome greater integration, but the Minister will be aware that there are grave concerns about the effect of cuts to social care on the NHS. More and more patients are spending greater time in more expensive settings in hospital when they could be better looked after in their own homes or in the community, but cuts to social care make that impossible. Will the Minister set out what appraisal the Government are making of the effect and the damage to the NHS of cuts to social care?

My hon. Friend is right: social care funding is tight. It is also true to say that those parts of the country that do the best in this regard—there are some that do considerably better than others—have integrated social care and health most effectively. On the budget itself, there is some disparity among different local authorities. About a quarter of local authorities have increased their adult social care budget by 5% or more this year.