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Care Setting Transfers: Waiting Lists

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 19 July 2022

I assure the hon. Lady and everybody in the House that this is a key focus for the Department as we know that delayed hospital discharges put pressure on the health and care systems and, most importantly, impact our patients. To address delays, we have established a national hospital discharge taskforce, which is running a 100-day discharge challenge, and integrated care systems can now become discharge front-runners to share good practice and ambitious ideas.

I thank the Minister for her answer, but Miriam Deakin of NHS Providers has said:

“There is huge pressure on beds…and a lack of social care capacity means that hospital patients can’t be discharged as soon as they could be to recover closer to home”.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has estimated that 57% who longer meet the criteria are stuck in hospital. That is putting huge pressure on hospitals such as the Royal London in my constituency, which is doing amazing work. However, it cannot get the job done if the Government do not step up and back local authorities with the resources they need to provide care for those who can be discharged. That is what is needed. Is it not time that the Minister, with the new Health Secretary, got to grips with this problem, which has built up over a decade because of the decimation of social care? That is what is needed. There is a fix; the Government need to get on with it.

Between March 2020 and March 2022, we made nearly £3.3 billion available to support discharge, recognising the pressures faced by the health and social care sectors, as they manage the demands of covid-19. Under section 75 of the National Health Service Act 2006, funding can be pooled across health and social care to ensure the effective use of available resources. That allows funds such as the better care fund to be used to support discharges, and I know that many integrated care systems are focused on doing that and pooling more resources.

I do appreciate that it has only been two weeks, but the Secretary of State will be familiar with the use of root cause analysis to solve problems; however, yesterday he spoke for almost eight minutes on ambulance delays with scant reference to social care. Had he been badly briefed?

The Secretary of State did mention social care, and of course, very recently, on 1 July, we established the integrated care systems. They are specifically focused on making sure that local authorities work with their local health services to really focus on the patient and improve outcomes for the patient. We recognise that these systems all have to work together around the patient.

We understand what the proposals are, but the Secretary of State said earlier that he welcomed solutions. We have heard today from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. Seven in 10 say that care providers have closed, handed back contracts or ceased trading. We have all seen this in our constituencies. It is mainly due to the now imminent workforce crisis. Will the Minister ensure that the Secretary of State heeds those warnings and responds adequately to the workforce crisis?

This is absolutely key, which is why we are implementing a comprehensive reform programme of adult social care. In September 2021, we committed to investing an additional £5.4 billion over three years, and in December we published “People at the Heart of Care”, which set out our 10-year vision for reforming adult social care and our priorities for investment. This absolutely has to be done—it is a key part of the system—but we have to put the foundations in place. Our 10-year plan will put those foundations in place.