This is a simple amendment. As the clause stands, the Secretary of State is mentioned only in the context of the NHS. We received a lot of oral and written evidence about concerns that the social care function would be lost. It is quite pertinent here to reflect on the words of Sir Ian Kennedy during our first sitting. He said:
“it is my position that ultimately, bringing together health care and social care regulations is desirable because the citizenry do not know, and care less, under what system they are being looked after—they want it to be seamlessly well-organised.”——[Official Report, Health and Social Care Public Bill Committee, 8 January 2008; c. 6.]
We are all aware of areas where the system perhaps comes apart at the seams, for want of a better phrase. I use as an example the case of continuing care. I suspect that every hon. Member in this Room has played a part in trying to secure continuing care funding for a patient. Often, they have Alzheimer’s and have significant health needs, but ultimately, a decision is made by a person or persons unknown that their need is not a health need, but a social care need, so they do not receive NHS funding.
In most cases, it is difficult to see where the division lies. I have had two very similar cases; one could hardly see a difference in the capabilities and illness levels of my two constituents. One received the funding, but the other did not. It was down to the different assessments on the day. Although the Government have made some attempts to improve that, I still think that there is a problem. In the case where the continuing funding was made available, the care was given in a nursing home, which is not part of the NHS. Although the constituent was NHS funded and she was receiving some NHS care from nurses, a lot of the care was also being received from other workers in the home. It seems rather perverse that the Secretary of State could make decisions on part of that care, but not that other part. We ought to be aiming for the seamless care that was described by Sir Ian Kennedy. Others echoed his sentiments: Denise Platt said that she wanted a strong social care focus to be retained. The amendment serves two purposes: to try to have that seamless aspect, and to make it absolutely clear that the focus on social care is retained in the Bill.