What his most recent assessment is of the adequacy of provision of intermediate care in (a) north-east Hertfordshire and (b) England; and if he will make a statement.
In 2009, as part of the prevention package for older people, the Department issued revised intermediate care guidance, entitled "Halfway Home", which strengthens the original 2001 guidance. It is for local NHS and social care commissioners to determine the range of services needed to avoid unnecessary hospital admission, help with timely discharge and prevent premature admission to long-term residential care.
I thank the Minister for his reply, but can it be right for the PCT review in north-east Hertfordshire, where we have relatively few intermediate care beds and where home services are relatively undeveloped, to be looking at possibly removing places from Royston hospital-that is, care bed places that are used currently-and if so, what is the future for all the people using those facilities?
I understand that a review of intermediate care is being carried out by the hon. Gentleman's primary care trust and the county council. The Friends of Royston hospital and local councillors have been invited to a workshop in March, and the PCT will, subject to various approvals, begin formal engagement with stakeholders about the future of intermediate care in May or June this year. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take every opportunity, as one of the local Members of Parliament, to make a contribution and give his support to the development of more intermediate care. He might be interested to know that the number of beds has doubled over the past 10 years, and that three times as many people are now benefiting from intermediate care. I hope that that is also true of his own area.
It sounds as though some of the changes to the hospital trust in north-east Hertfordshire are similar to those taking place at the Gloucester Royal hospital in my constituency, where four hospital wards are to be closed by
Of course it is very important that local people-not least my hon. Friend, as the local Member of Parliament-have a chance to make their voices heard in regard to such changes. I urge all primary care trusts and local authorities to look at the guidance that we have issued on intermediate care. It talks about more flexibility in relation to the length of time people can get such care, as well as the need to ensure that people with dementia can have access to it, and the need to include reablement services, which are a critical part of the success of intermediate care. I hope that those messages will go out not only to my hon. Friend's hospital but to every hospital across the country.