Orders of the Day — Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc.) Bill
Mr Paul Burstow (Sutton and Cheam, Liberal Democrat)
Basically, there are not enough OTs to go round. There is also the spectre of social services and the health service competing for a scarce resource. Until additional OTs are in place, we shall continue to have logjams in the system, as there is a fundamental lack of capacity. Those capacity constraints also apply to home care staff—the latest figures suggest that there is a 10 per cent. vacancy rate. We have serious problems recruiting such staff because they are low paid and undervalued. Unless we tackle that, we shall continue to have problems and will certainly not fulfil the Government's ambition to have more people cared for in their own homes.
Because of rationing, fewer people, as has been said, are receiving home care. The figure may be disputed, but 110,000 fewer home care packages are being delivered. Ministers say that that is because people are getting other services instead, such as meals on wheels, day care and so on. It is clear, however, that the figures for home care support have gone down. People who get such care, however, are getting it for more hours because they are more dependent. The Government's mantra is prevention. In practice, however, when they are judged on the figures, their emphasis is on dealing with crises and the most dependent people, and not prevention.
Capacity has also been lost in the care home sector, and is not being replaced by more care in people's own homes. The loss of 60,000 beds over the past five years has been mentioned but, more importantly, in the past three years closures have exceeded new registrations, which have been flatlining for at least three years.