NHS and Social Care Commission

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 28th January 2016.

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Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Health) 12:32 pm, 28th January 2016

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that intervention; he absolutely makes the case. Incidentally, I think that it is massively in the Government’s interests to respond positively, because any solution has to carry public support and support across the political spectrum.

Consider these points. Does it still make sense to maintain the divide that was originally put in place in 1948 between the NHS and the social care system? Is that serving patients effectively, particularly given that the big challenge of this century will be people living with long-term, chronic conditions, often multiple conditions, and often a mix of mental and physical health conditions? For those people, a divide between different organisations with different pools of money and different commissioning arrangements does not seem to make much sense. I think that that needs to be looked at.

Too often, the system gives the impression of being rather dysfunctional. For example, last October there were 160,000 bed days resulting from people whose discharges were delayed. These are predominantly older people, often with dementia, who remain stuck in hospital long after they are ready to go home or somewhere closer to home. This is not good care. We are letting people down by keeping them in hospital for longer than they need to be, which also makes it harder for them to become independent again. The figure went down a little in November, but it is still the second highest since the data on delayed discharges started to be recorded.