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Social Care Reform

Volume 724: debated on Tuesday 6 December 2022

We are already putting social care reforms into practice. For instance, we want care providers to adopt digital care records, and more than 50% have already done so. I am determined to shine more light on our social care system, so our new Care Quality Commission-led assurance of local authorities’ social care duties will start in April.

One of the worst vacancy rates across the NHS is that of geriatricians. What urgent action is the Minister putting in place to ensure that people either at home with domiciliary care or in social care settings are seeing a geriatrician consultant regularly? If there is a shortage, which I believe there is, what action is she taking to have more doctors train as geriatricians?

The hon. Lady makes an important point about people who are receiving social care also having access to the healthcare they need and these systems working together across our health and social care systems. We are training more doctors overall, and we have an increase in medical school places, which is leading to more doctors coming through. I am happy to take away and look at her question about the number of geriatricians.

On delivering social care reform, does the Minister agree that we also need to be looking at how the funding packages work, particularly across borders? I have a constituent whose case falls between two local authorities. Will she agree to meet me as a matter of urgency to make sure that this poor constituent receives the funding she needs for her husband’s care?

As announced in the autumn statement, we have a record funding settlement of £7.5 billion going into the social care system over the next two years, to improve both access and quality of care. I am happy to meet my right hon. Friend to look into the specific challenge that she has outlined, because it is important that local areas are working together across boundaries.

Let’s just tell it like it is on the Government’s record on social care reform. Their cap on care costs was first promised 10 years ago. In 2015, they delayed it and in 2017 they scrapped it. In 2019, the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) again promised to fix the crisis in social care, but last month the Chancellor buried the policy, once and for all. After 12 long years, what have Conservative Members got to show on social care: the highest ever staff vacancies; millions left without the care they need; hospitals full of people who do not need to be there; and families picking up the strain. Isn’t the truth on social care, just as with our economy, transport, housing and schools, that the Conservatives have run out of excuses and run out of road, and the country deserves a change?

We have delayed our social care charging reforms because we listened to those in the system and we heard local authorities asking for more time to prepare. Importantly, we have allowed local authorities to keep the money allocated to that in their bank accounts to fund some of the current pressures on social care. I ask the hon. Lady to recognise the record funding settlement for social care in the autumn statement—£7.5 billion for social care over the next two years—which she has not even acknowledged. That is coupled with the fact that we are pressing full steam ahead with our system-wide reforms to social care, with funding of more than £1 billion to support the workforce and innovations in social care and to transform the quality and access to social care across the country.