Services for Older People

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 27th March 2012.

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Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Labour, Blaenau Gwent 11:30 am, 27th March 2012

What recent assessment he has made of the performance of services for older people.

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

A number of inspections, reports, independent audits, and investigations have revealed long-standing and unacceptable variations in the standard of care that older people receive in the NHS, and in social care. The Government are determined to root out poor-quality care wherever it is found. We have established the national Nursing and Care Quality Forum to work with patients, carers and professionals to spread best practice.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Labour, Blaenau Gwent

The British Geriatrics Society’s “Quest for Quality” report identified that too many people in care homes were without access to NHS services, including psychiatric, physiotherapy and continence services. What action are the Government taking to ensure that care home residents get the high-quality NHS care that they deserve?

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

In England, one of the things that we are doing is making sure that a programme of special inspections of care homes, conducted by the Care Quality Commission, looks at those issues to ensure that we provide the right range of support services for people in care homes. In addition, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has produced quality standards; in particular, it has been working on quality standards relating to issues affecting older people—incontinence, nutrition support for adults, patient experience, delirium, dementia, and many others. All that is critical to delivering really good-quality care in care homes.

Photo of Margot James Margot James Conservative, Stourbridge

Russells Hall hospital, which serves my constituency, has reviewed recent reports, and done its own research, on dignity and care for older patients. It has elevated the qualities of care and compassion to the top of its criteria for recruiting health care assistants. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Nursing and Midwifery Council should apply similar learning to nurse training?

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

It is important that that is applied to all who have direct responsibility for delivering care, and hands-on care in particular. The work that Russells Hall hospital is doing on care and respect, and in its responsibility programme, is a good example of that. On issues such as dementia, we are clear that we need to ensure good advice, training and support for all nursing staff—we are working with the Royal College of Nursing on this—so that they treat people who have dementia with dignity.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People)

The Government are rightly building on Labour’s national dementia strategy, and the Minister should know that the dementia crisis cannot be addressed without tackling the crisis in care. Yet his Government have cut more than £1 billion from local council budgets for older people’s care, services are being withdrawn and care charges for dementia sufferers are soaring. The Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK say that these cuts have pushed the system to breaking point. Does the Minister agree with them, yes or no?

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

The hon. Lady, of course, offers no solution, merely a problem. I say to her that this Government identified £7.2 billion of additional investment to go into social care over the life of this Parliament, and those resources are being used creatively by some local authorities to protect front-line services. I urge her to applaud the authorities that are doing that and join me in condemning those that are cutting services despite being given the resources.