Caring for the Carers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:06 pm on 1st May 1986.

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Photo of Mr Barney Hayhoe Mr Barney Hayhoe , Brentford and Isleworth 5:06 pm, 1st May 1986

It has increased to £670 million since then. Of course, the hon. Gentleman always wishes to denigrate what we have done, because the Labour Government did so little when they were responsible. We have also made considerable progress in taking long-stay children out of large mental handicap hospitals and putting them into better provision in the community, including small NHS units for children who need health care. More than 2,400 children were in such hospitals at the end of 1980. At the end of 1984, there were fewer than 700, including those children in short-term care. Our latest estimates show that the numbers are now much lower.

We are committed to providing efficient and effective services for those who need them. For too long, the central key role played by families, friends and neighbours in community care has been ignored. Of course, it is not true to say that nothing more needs to be done by statutory and voluntary service providers before adequate support is provided for all informal carers. We have recognised their key importance and brought it to the notice of those planning and providing services locally. We are developing and exploring new and better ways of providing support. We are undertaking the research to provide solid evidence for future planning. I believe that that is a record of progress, and it lays the foundations for significant further progress over the next few years. I commend the amendment to the House.