Report (5th Day)

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Turnberg Lord Turnberg Labour 5:45 pm, 6th March 2012

I shall speak in support of Amendment 165 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff. This amendment is designed to ensure that Monitor encourages integration and collaboration. In all that, it is important that Monitor ensures that the operation of the system of payment by tariffs does not interfere with that integration and, at worse, adds to the costs of the health service.

I shall give two examples of where the tariff system might be counterproductive. The first is in relation to the hospital admission of a patient who goes home, is readmitted and may be readmitted several times. It is in the hospital's financial interest to have these episodes of care because it gets paid by the tariff each time the patient comes in. There is no inducement in the hospital to try to enlist social services. I am sure that it does, but the system works against that and tends to promote readmission as a way of earning money.

The second concerns patients who are in the hospital for one condition and develop a condition relevant to another consultant. For example, a patient may come in with an orthopaedic problem such as a broken hip, and then develop an acute episode of diabetes, so there is a need to call for a diabetologist to look after the patient's diabetes. That requires a rather tortuous consultation process which involves a second episode and a further payment by the tariff system. Those are two obvious and common examples of where integration is interfered with by the system we are operating.

I know that the Government are not keen to change that sort of system, but there must be ways for Monitor to look at it critically and see whether the current tariff system can be made to work better than it does at the moment. I hope that the noble Earl will be able to comment on that.