Friday 10 February 2012
On Wednesday this week a cross party of MPs declared that elderly people are not receiving the best health and social care because of fragmented services and suggested that joined-up commissioning would improve the situation significantly.
The House of Commons Health Select Committee in its latest report on elderly social care argued that joined-up services would be work better for older and vulnerable people, and contribute in delivering efficiency savings for the NHS.
Health Committee chair Stephen Dorrell said the report emphasises the importance of joined-up services and the poor outcomes resulting from sending patients from “one part of the system to another, without any serious attempt to look at their needs in the round”. He argued that without a coherent joined up service delivery plan the process simply cannot be efficient or even effective.
"The funding for NHS care, social care and social housing comes from different sources. Our central recommendation is that the key to joined-up services is joined-up commissioning," he said. "We recommend the Government place a duty on the new clinical commissioning groups and local councils to create a single commissioning process for older people’s health, care and housing services in their area."
The committee went on to express concerns about the £2.2 Billion being handed over to local authorities for promoting public health arguing that it would not be adequate to maintain "service quality and efficiency".
The MPs pointed out that the anomaly of health service being free while care services are means tested confuse a lot of people and is unsettling. However, the committee acknowledged the pressures on public finance and urged the government to accept the initial recommendations of the Dilnot Commission to cap lifetime care expense contributions for individuals at £35,000.
Think tank The King’s Fund welcomed the committee’s report but pointed out that successive governments despite their intentions have failed to deliver integrated health and social care services. There is no option left now but to do it immediately.
Michelle Mitchell director general of Age UK said: "The Government should act urgently and implement the Dilnot funding reforms, update social care law, and bring health and social care much closer together.
The government welcomed the report and Paul Burstow, the Care Services Minister accepted that “integrated” services should be the norm. The minister went on to pledge that a white paper articulating the government’s vision of sustainable social care reform would be published later in the year as a response to the Dilnot Commission recommendations as well as the MPs’ report.