HC Deb 07 November 1989 vol 159 cc826-7
12. Mr. Nigel Griffiths

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he intends to ensure that standards of assessment for community care services are of a national minimum quality.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

Local authorities will be responsible for carrying out assessment, in collaboration with medical, nursing and other interests. Further information on the procedures will be contained in our White Paper on community care, to be published shortly.

Mr. Griffiths

The Minister told the House on 17 October that the Government were committed to advocacy for the disabled, so why have they delayed shamefully the implementation of sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1987? The Minister referred to local authorities, so why have the Government postponed meeting local authorities to discuss these matters, which are so critical to disabled people?

Mrs. Bottomley

The proposals in the White Paper will be a milestone in the provision of care for those who need to be cared for in the community. They will offer the opportunity of assessment and appropriate care rather than the perverse incentives that have taken place in the past. The provisions of the Disabled Persons Act will be reviewed in the light of the proposals once they have been announced.

Mr. Soames

Is my hon. Friend aware that now that so many beds are provided in the private sector for the care of the elderly, the generally held view is that there is not sufficient liaison between the private and public sectors for the care of the elderly? Is my hon. Friend satisfied, within the context of the report, that everything possible is being done to obtain that important information?

Mrs. Bottomley

My hon. Friend addresses a key point. What matters to the elderly is that provision is available and there is a choice of provision. Our proposals for care in the community will allow for an equal playing field, which will in turn allow choice, variety and proper inspection. No more will either the public or the private sectors be disadvantaged.

Mr. Tom Clarke

Is the Minister aware that Sense, the organisation of and for blind-deaf persons has issued a clear statement in which it says that the tragic case of Beverley Lewis might not have taken place had the appropriate sections of the Disabled Persons Act been implemented? Will the Government accept that they have on the statute book the opportunity to prevent such dreadful cases from taking place, and will they make sure that this Act is implemented with all possible speed? Will the Minister also resume negotiations with the local authorities?

Mrs. Bottomley

The hon. Gentleman will know as well as I do of the danger of springing to too many conclusions on one tragic and appalling case. We are looking carefully at this case and will learn lessons as appropiate. I draw to the hon. Gentleman's attention the provision, recently announced by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, of further services and attention to the needs of the mentally ill.

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