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Hospital Patients: Discharge into Social Care

Volume 742: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2023

3. What progress her Department has made on discharging patients from hospitals and moving them into social care. (900468)

When someone no longer needs to be in hospital, it is better for them and better for the NHS for them to go home. That is why we have been working hard to reduce delayed discharges, and we have been making good progress. In England, delayed discharges are down 13% since January, meaning thousands fewer people waiting in hospital and freeing up nearly 2,000 hospital beds every day.

In my constituency of North East Fife, an average of 14% of social care and social work roles are filled when first advertised, but yesterday the Home Secretary announced plans to make it harder to recruit care workers from overseas. What assessment has the Minister made of the effect of that announcement on hospitals’ ability to discharge patients and free up hospital beds for those who need them?

The hon. Member refers to yesterday’s announcement on migration. First, I am very grateful to all the international workers who come here to help in our health and social care system and to care for our loved ones. Clearly, we must get the balance right between migration and making sure that our health and care system has the workforce that it needs. That is what we are doing, both with the migration changes announced yesterday and with our reforms to the social care workforce to ensure that working in social care is appealing to home-grown talent.

Thanks to their own internal chaos, the Conservatives have utterly failed in their promise at the last general election to fix the crisis in social care once and for all. We now have over 150,000 care vacancies and 390,000 care staff leaving their jobs each year, meaning that 60% of patients in England who are fit for discharge are being kept in hospital each day. Will the Minister therefore back Labour’s plan to deliver a fair pay agreement, with better terms, conditions, training and pay, to ensure that we have the staff required to care for all those who need it?

Labour really have not got a leg to stand on when it comes to social care reform. They did not do anything the last time they were in government, and they still do not have a plan for social care. In government, we are reforming social care careers—[Interruption.] If the hon. Lady will take a look at what we are doing, we are introducing a new career structure for people working in social care, introducing new qualifications and investing in training for social care. We are doing what needs to be done to ensure that social care as a career works for UK workers. [Interruption.]