HL Deb 14 March 1983 vol 440 cc591-2WA
Baroness Macleod of Borve

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the Care in the Community programme will be implemented.

Lord Trefgarne

Last July we announced the Government's decision on the care in the community consultative document. Some of these decisions needed legislation and this is currently before the House. But many of the decisions do not and these are being put into effect by a circular that is being sent today to health authorities, local authorities and voluntary organisations. A copy of the circular is being placed in the Library.

The circular gives health and local authorities the go-ahead to set up joint projects for moving people out of long-stay hospitals and into community care. The most important change is that for the first time ever health authorities will be able to offer to local authorities and voluntary organisations continuing payments for as long as necessary to provide for people moving out of hospitals into community care. It will be possible to move resources with the patient for however long it proves necessary to provide him with better care at or near his own home. This goes much further than the so-called joint finance arrangements which provide support finance only for a period. Most people responsible for the care of mentally ill, mentally handicapped, elderly and disabled people agree with the Government that there are still far too many people unnecessarily kept in hospital for long periods simply because facilities are not available to care for them in the community. The circular gives authorities extra flexibility which we hope they will now use. They should work in close partnership with one another and with the voluntary sector in helping people who would otherwise be long-stay hospital patients to live in or near their own homes. We also hope that this will bring forward the day when some of our older unsuitably sited mental hospitals can be closed and the cost of maintaining them released to pay for better care based on up-to-date practice.

The Government have allocated an extra £11.3 million cash for joint finance next year. This will mean that we will have increased the cash available for joint finance by 180 per cent. during our period of office—over 50 per cent. in real terms.

Part of the extra joint finance allocation will be used centrally to support a programme of selected projects to explore ways of achieving the move into community care. This central support for the programme will continue for five years and will total up to £15 million at 1982–83 prices. The programme will be monitored and assessed and the results made widely available.

The remainder of the extra money will be allocated to health authorities for local support of arrangements for moving people out of hospital.