The government is under increasing pressure to abandon its plans on
delayed discharges from MPs who claim that no one in the sector is
in support of the proposal.
David Hinchliffe, chairperson of the House of Commons health select
committee and Labour MP for Wakefield, told MPs that last year’s
committee inquiry into plans to fine social services departments
over delayed discharges had revealed no support from social
services, health or voluntary organisations.
“Not even Department of Health officials appeared especially
enthusiastic about it,” he told MPs during last week’s third
reading of the Community Care (Delayed Discharges) Bill, which
contains the proposal. Hinchliffe said he hoped that “even at this
late stage” the government would withdraw the bill, which is now
due to be debated in the House of Lords.
“I cannot support the bill,” he said. “It is a bad measure that has
not been thought through. It will damage the good, positive
relationships between health and social services departments that
the government has created in some areas.”
Simon Burns, Conservative MP for West Chelmsford and shadow
spokesperson for health, predicted that readmission rates for older
people leaving hospital would increase over the next two years, and
that people would be placed inappropriately to avoid fines.
He said that none of the social services departments his office had
contacted, including those in the Prime Minister’s constituency
“had a smidgen of enthusiasm for fines” and all were worried about
the amount they might have to pay.
Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam, warned that
it would “turn the patient into a commodity to be haggled over by
social services departments and the NHS”.
He added that the measure would result in social services
prioritising hospital patients over vulnerable people in their own
Concern was also raised about the way the bill had been rushed
through the House of Commons. It was covered in just two sittings –
half the time normally expected for a bill of its size.
George Young, Conservative MP for North West Hampshire, agreed that
there had not been proper time to consider the bill and accused the
minister of ignoring pleas to delay implementation until April