Local Authority Social Care Budgets

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th November 2016.

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Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons) 12:00 am, 15th November 2016

What assessment he has made of the effect of changes to local authority social care budgets on the demand for health services.

Photo of David Mowat David Mowat The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Social care plays a vital role in keeping people healthy and independent, which is why the Government are making a further £3.5 billion available by 2020—a real-terms increase over the lifetime of this Parliament. There is an overlap between care and health, which is why faster integration is our major priority.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons)

The Secretary of State’s Conservative predecessor, Stephen Dorrell, has said this month that we are increasingly using our acute hospitals as “unbelievably expensive care homes”, and he described this as a “grotesque waste of resources”. Is it not the case that the Government have simply outsourced the hardest decisions on social care cuts to the hardest-pressed local authorities to ensure that councils get the blame, not the Government, and that ultimately it is the NHS that suffers?

Photo of David Mowat David Mowat The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

As I said earlier, we agree that the social care system is under pressure, but we also make the point that there is a massive disparity between the performance of different parts of that system. For example, Manchester, the hon. Gentleman’s own patch, has a DTOC performance seven to eight times worse, per 10,000 patients, than Salford, in spite of the 15% increase in its budget this year.

Photo of Caroline Ansell Caroline Ansell Conservative, Eastbourne

A small-scale study by Professor Peter Fleming has recently made the press. It links cardiorespiratory compromise in new-borns with sleeping in car seats for prolonged periods—over 30 minutes. Given that for many Eastbourne babies, one of their first life experiences is the journey home from Hastings hospital, which is longer than 30 minutes, will the Department look at these findings, consider whether further study is required and offer reassurance to parents rightly concerned by the research?

Photo of David Mowat David Mowat The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

This is a very difficult case. The Department will look at the evidence and revert to the House.

Photo of Helen Jones Helen Jones Chair, Petitions Committee, Chair, Petitions Committee

The Cheshire and Merseyside sustainability and transformation plan relies heavily on more care in the community. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that this will not work while local authority social care is being cut to the bone, because it will merely send people back to their own homes, where their health will deteriorate?

Photo of David Mowat David Mowat The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Cheshire and Merseyside STP will be published tomorrow, and we will all know better then what it says. The hon. Lady is right that there is an interaction between social care and health, but she and I, as Warrington MPs, must both be pleased that Warrington is one of the top performers in terms of delayed transfers of care, and on that we should congratulate our local authorities.