Mr. John D. Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he will introduce the community care reforms in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on community care.
§ Mr. Needham
The Government's proposals for the development of community care in Northern Ireland are as set out in the policy paper "People First", which the Department of Health and Social Services published in March 1990.
The proposed changes will, however, be introduced more slowly than originally intended. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health told the House on 18 July, the Government have decided that it would not be practicable to implement all the reforms simultaneously in April 1991. In particular, the present social security arrangements for people needing care in private or voluntary residential care and nursing homes will continue until April 1993. Since the social security system operates on a national basis, Northern Ireland will follow the new national timetable. This means that health and social services boards will not begin purchasing care on behalf of their clients in residential homes and nursing homes until 1 April 1993.
It is, however, intended to maintain the momentum on developmental work needed to turn the concept of high quality community care into a reality. The Department will be issuing a series of implementation documents on key aspects of the reforms for consultation over the next few weeks. Health and social services boards will be implementing the proposals on arm's length inspection units and complaints procedures from next April; and will have additional time to prepare thoroughly for successful implementation of the other major changes.