§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what financial resources are being made available for the new community care system, and for the retention of large mental hospitals until such a time as the new community care system is firmly established.
§ Mr. John Patten
Funding mental illness and mental handicap hospitals and the necessary shifting of funds towards the new pattern of health services is the responsibility of the health authorities, using their own resources and funding development of services through growth moneys or improved performance. The provision of the personal social services component of community712W care is the responsibility of the local authorities, who have been asked to protect services for the most vulnerable people. The development of community care by local authorities and voluntary organisations is assisted from NHS funds through the joint financing arrangements. Some £100 million has been allocated this year, bringing the total since the arrangements were set up to well over £500 million. Health authorities can now also transfer funds from their main allocations to local authorities and voluntary organisations for as long as necessary to provide community care for people moving out of long-stay hospitals. Joint finance funds can be used, on extended terms where necessary, to help fund the development of alternative services in the community until savings accrue through the rundown of mental hospitals.
Assistance from centrally reserved funds is being provided through schemes for getting mentally handicapped children out of hospital (£10 million over four years) and the programme of Care in the Community pilot projects (£16 million over four years).
Our discussions with regional health authorities at the annual regional review meetings has shown that RHAs are well aware of the need to provide adequately for the hospitals which remain open.