HC Deb 26 October 1993 vol 230 c686
11. Mr. Purchase

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to meet the Spastics Society to discuss community care.

Mr. Bowis

My right hon. Friend met the society when she opened its Ruth Garwood lodge in the summer. I have not been approached for a meeting, but I am always ready to consider any such request. I personally very much value the contribution of the Spastics Society to community care.

Mr. Purchase

Does the Minister realise that such is the shortage of funds in local authorities that they cannot afford the level of occupational therapists needed? The Spastics Society is now having to divert its funds into that employment, and the local authority assessment services using occupational therapists now cannot get round to the people desperately in need of assistance and adaptations in their homes. What does he intend to do about that?

Mr. Bowis

The whole question of assessment of need is central to our community care policy. We have in place a system which assesses each individual's needs, both in terms of residential needs where that is appropriate and in terms of any medical treatments and therapies. Those needs are assessed and they are then put out to be met by the providers. The Spastics Society makes excellent provision, although some of that provision has proved costly. The society needs to look at efficiency and savings within its own organisation. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the money that has been put into community care is more than sufficient, as has been recognised by the Association of Directors of Social Services, which has said that in the early months of community care the system is up and running and that it is optimistic about the future.

Mr. Thurnham

Will my hon. Friend ensure that as much as possible of the £565 million for community care goes to efficient voluntary groups and not to town hall bureaucracies, which do not deliver an efficient and fair service?

Mr. Bowis

My hon. Friend is right. As he knows, we have encouraged local authorities to work closely in both the planning and execution of community care with the voluntary and the independent sector. Voluntary and private providers have an important part to play. We have made a requirement that 85 per cent. of the transitional grant be allocated to that sector. That requirement is being met in most parts of the country. There is a great willingness among social services departments to meet it. I am confident that we can go forward with community care in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors.