Committee (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 14th November 2011.

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Photo of Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top Labour 3:30 pm, 14th November 2011

My Lords, I rise briefly to lend support to the amendment. I work with charities for the homeless and for children. If the Government's ambition is to enable the NHS to work with the patient on the full pathway-rather than work being done in little bits by different organisations-then making the playing field level for the voluntary sector is absolutely critical to developing those pathways. In my experience, the voluntary organisation is frequently the glue in making sure that the pathway for the patient works for the patient.

I remind the Minister that when this works well there are often savings for the National Health Service. I have experienced that in homelessness, where we have been able to work with the PCT to get a community matron. That has reduced the number of expensive admissions to hospital and A&E for the most disadvantaged-the homeless. I have also seen that work well with, for example, children with disabilities and children who are very ill. They have been enabled to remain at home with the proper support instead of being frequently admitted to hospital.

It is to the advantage of the NHS that we get this right. What will the Government do to bring forward in the Bill comfort and encouragement for the voluntary sector? After the pause, that sector has been left with a rather large amount of confusion.