HC Deb 16 April 1991 vol 189 cc145-6
1. Mr. Jacques Arnold

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many local authorities have already produced community care plans and assessment procedures for an individual's needs for community care services.

The Minister for Health (Mrs. Virginia Bottomley)

All local authorities are required to produce plans for care in the community by April next year and to establish assessment procedures for community care services by April 1993. Many authorities have already moved ahead.

Mr. Arnold

Has my hon. Friend noted that Kent county council was ready to implement its community care arrangements on 1 April this year and has introduced a series of arrangements that will give a far better service to its customers? Can my hon. Friend comment on the considerable increase in resources being put into social services by Kent?

Mrs. Bottomley

Kent has been one of the front runners in the development of care in the community and its care management is a model to many. I visited Kent last year to discuss its work. I can confirm the increase in resources. Its spending on personal social services has risen from £24.4 million in 1978–79 to £99.1 million in 1990–91—a real-terms increase of 61 per cent.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Minister aware that it is necessary to take into account the views of disabled people if community care is to be effective, yet the Government have acknowledged that they are dropping the advocacy parts of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 and sections 1, 2 and 3? That is damaging to community care and to disabled people.

Mrs. Bottomley

The Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act predates the care in the community policies. Local authorities are already hard pressed to maintain the timetable for full implementation, but giving proper attention to the user of the service and the carer is a fundamental principle of care in the community. We have made it clear that we will review the formal implementation of those sections once care in the community is properly established.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Should not we be talking more about quality care packages than community care packages? We are dealing with the most vulnerable groups in our society—the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped and the elderly. Will my hon. Friend look at the developments that are taking place in Macclesfield? I refer particularly to Hollins park, which is a progressive partnership between the health authority and community health services. That is a private organisation dealing with the provision of beds in a nursing home for the elderly mentally infirm. Could not that be translated to many other areas?

Mrs. Bottomley

I thank my hon. Friend, who has always been a champion of, and a great expert in, these matters. There are many examples throughout Britain of innovative practical schemes offering support to the frail and vulnerable. I was in my hon. Friend's part of the world only recently to see a pioneering scheme combining district nurses and day care workers from the social services to offer a practical alternative to residential care. I shall certainly look more carefully at the details of the scheme that my hon. Friend outlined.

Mr. Rooker

Does the Minister accept that if the plans are to serve the needs of the individual, they will have to involve the voluntary sector? Is the hon. Lady aware of a recent survey of the voluntary sector in which almost half of the respondents said that they had no involvement or an unsatisfactory level of involvement in the planning of community care services? On what date did she issue a letter or a circular to the local authorities making it clear that if those plans are to work they must involve the voluntary sector?

Mrs. Bottomley

The voluntary sector has pioneered many excellent services that are particularly responsive to the needs of users and carers. Only two weeks ago, we announced funding of £25,000 for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations to help voluntary organisa-tions prepare for the contracting procedures. We have regular meetings with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and many others and we shall certainly be asking whether it has any further concerns at our next meeting, next month. We have made it clear throughout that we in the Conservative party believe in a mixed economy of care using the voluntary and private sectors. We are not committed to the monolithic provision of services by local authorities.

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