HC Deb 24 June 1997 vol 296 cc669-70
18. Mr. Heppell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the proportion of retired people who would be able to afford to take out private partnerships for long-term care. [3484]

Mr. Boateng

No useful assessment can be made, given the nature of the previous Government's partnership scheme and the multiplicity of factors that would govern its take-up.

Mr. Heppell

Does it not seem clear that private insurance can be of benefit only to a few, not to the majority of elderly people? Will the Government therefore introduce a charter for long-term care specifying what health authorities and social services departments will provide for older people in need of long-term care?

Mr. Boateng

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend—as did the overwhelming majority of people who responded to the former Government's consultation process on their ill-fated partnership scheme. It is our intention to ensure that there is a charter for long-term care so that all in receipt of such care have equal and fair access to higher-quality services. What matters is not whether the care is given in the private or public sector but whether the quality of the services, and the value for money that the public are entitled to expect of them, can be provided.

Mr. Ian Bruce

Did I hear the Minister say that he wants long-term care to be effectively transferred back to the NHS? Will he commit the Government to doing that, or to ensuring that people's homes are still maintained even if they have stopped living in them? Is that yet another spending commitment by the Government?

Mr. Boateng

The hon. Gentleman did not hear me correctly, but I suspect that he was not listening very hard. Had he been listening, he would have heard of our commitment to long-term care and our determination to ensure that the vulnerable people who need it get the best value for money. That is this Government's response to the crisis to which the previous Government helped to contribute.

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