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What the role of primary care trusts is in the allocation of beds for care of the elderly.
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Primary care trusts work with local authority partners to commission high-quality care services from appropriate providers to meet local patient needs, with a clear focus on improving health outcomes for the population, including older people. It is the responsibility of each provider—be it the hospital, the residential facility or another provider—to determine the level of service provision, such as bed numbers, to meet expected demand and to provide high-quality care.
I put it to the Minister that it is entirely wrong that primary care trusts that are not clinically qualified should deprive dying patients of beds. I hope that he will remove them from the picture and allow a decision to be taken by clinically qualified practitioners.
I understand the importance of the issue to the hon. Lady, but it is vital that we have an appropriate process for commissioning high-quality services locally. It is the responsibility of primary care trusts to undertake that function and, in the case of the care of elderly people, to do so, through beds in hospitals, beds in residential care and so on, in partnership with their local authorities. It is their responsibility to ensure that we have high-quality services from those appropriate providers. It is also a responsibility—this is subject to inspections and so on by the Care Quality Commission—to ensure that the relevant provider provides that high-quality care in a way that meets elderly people's needs.