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Personal Health and Care Budgets

Volume 643: debated on Tuesday 19 June 2018

I know that the thoughts of the whole House are with the families affected by the terrible atrocity a year ago.

Personal health budgets have a transformative effect on people with very complex health needs, and we plan for 50,000 to 100,000 more people to benefit from them by 2021.

I thank the Secretary of State for that reply. Does he agree that a key part of integrating health and social care is giving individuals more say and flexibility in how they use their entitlements? Will he consider extending his pilots to my constituency of North West Norfolk?

Absolutely, and not just to North West Norfolk, but to the whole country. We are currently consulting on giving a right to personal health budgets to people with the most complex health needs. That would be about 350,000 people and would include anyone with a continuing NHS need combined with a mental health need, a learning disability, autism or PTSD. Obviously, it would be hugely significant if we were able to proceed with that.

Will the Minister ensure that the long-term NHS plan puts a major emphasis on empowering patients through the wider availability of personal budgets? May I also join my hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Sir Henry Bellingham) and make a pitch for my local area of Northampton for one of the next wave of pilots?

Absolutely, and technology will have a big role, because this year we intend all NHS patients to be able to access their health records through an app. That will be extremely empowering, but my hon. Friend is right that giving people with long-term conditions control over their health and care destiny is a potentially huge leap forward.

While I agree with the philosophy and approach behind health and personal care budgets, will the Secretary of State acknowledge that the 21% fall in social care funding between 2010 and 2015-16 has caused a catastrophe in this area? Will he acknowledge that if this approach is to work in future, the funding has to be there?

I congratulate the last Labour Government on introducing direct payments, which were the first step in this process. The hon. Lady talks about cuts in social care, which I acknowledge, but, with respect to her, she never talks about the reason, which was that in 2008 we had the worst financial crisis in our peacetime history, and we had to take measures. It is as a result of creating 3.2 million jobs since then that funding for social care is now going up.

Bearing in mind that the number of bed days lost increased in the second quarter of 2017-18, with most of the patients subject to delays being elderly people, will the Minister outline a dedicated strategy for getting people out of hospital and back home with appropriate care as a matter of urgency, for the good of the patient as well as the public purse?

This is a huge challenge in all parts of the United Kingdom. In England, about 22% of bed days are occupied by people who have been in hospital for more than three weeks, and probably less than 20% of those people should be in hospital. We are taking urgent steps to rectify that, because it is very, very bad for the patients involved.