§ Mr. Blizzard
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to ensure that elderly people in need of places in nursing homes can be transferred from NHS hospitals when they are declared ready to be discharged. 
§ Mr. Hutton
We are working to modernise health and social services and are undertaking a number of relevant activities. Promoting independence is a joint priority for the National Health Service and social services and a key element of this is ensuring that people are not kept in hospital when they do not need to be there. The Health Act 1999 provides new opportunities for health and local authorities to work together in partnership to improve the health of individuals and communities.
We are developing a National Service Framework for Older People to drive up quality and reduce variation in health care for older people. The National Service Framework is being developed with the assistance of an external reference group which, amongst other things, is considering transitions to, from and within hospitals.
We have allocated £887 million over three years to local authorities to help them work with the NHS to develop services which prevent admission to hospital and facilitate early discharge, which help local authorities and NHS bodies to provide more seamless care and which help and support carers.