Magazine article Public Finance

DoH Moves to Curb Care Cost Shunting on to Councils

Magazine article Public Finance

DoH Moves to Curb Care Cost Shunting on to Councils

Article excerpt

The government has moved to stop the NHS shifting millions of pounds in care costs to councils' budgets, but has admitted it must go further to address a care gap' of up to 1.6 million people.

Announcing the Department of Health's new national NHS continuing care guidance on June 26, outgoing care minister Ivan Lewis said: 'This has been acknowledged as one of the great running sores running through our health care system.'

The new guidance is designed to end what Lewis called a postcode lottery' in decisions over whether an individual s care needs should be met by the NHS or by their council s means-tested social services departments.

The DoH expects the new guidance to mean that between 5,000 to 10,000 people deemed ineligible for free NHS care services will become eligible, resulting in an extra £220m cost to the NHS in one year.

Councils, charities and care leaders welcomed the move but insisted that much more has to be done.

'This is a drop in the ocean when considering the demographics of England's ageing population,' said Local Government Association chair Sandy Bruce-Lockhart. 'The social care system is creaking at the seams. The Treasury must be honest about whether it is prepared to fund the care which older people deserve.'

Bruce-Lockhart's comments came as figures seen by Public Finance suggested that as many as 1.6 million disabled older people living in their own homes were not receiving council homecare services.

Stephen Burke, chief executive of charity for the elderly Counsel and Care, told PF: 'There are more than 2 million disabled older people living in their own homes in England - around 600,000 of them classed as severely disabled - yet in 2005 just 395,000 people received any home help from their council, leaving as many as 1.6 million to fend for themselves.'

The figures are based on disabled population estimates from the DoH-funded Personal Social Services Research Unit. It defines 'disabled' as someone who struggles to perform an activity such as simple housework, and 'severely disabled' as someone who needs help to perform personal care tasks such as washing, eating or going to the toilet.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection has said that just 395,000 people received council homecare services in 2005. …

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