GPs are ready to use practice budgets to commission social care for their patients but cannot to do so because social services are often unavailable, a parliamentary inquiry heard this week.
Labour MP and GP Howard Stoate told the inquiry into the health and social care white paper that he often had to admit his patients into hospital on Friday afternoons because “if you phone social services after 1pm the phone goes dead”.
GPs’ purchasing of social care will help fulfil the white paper’s aim of shifting services out of hospitals and would also pull NHS resources into the sector.
John Dixon, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services disabilities committee, admitted social care and community health services needed to be available around the clock to provide a genuine alternative to hospital care.
The inquiry was organised by the all-party parliamentary groups on social care and primary care and public health, who plan to publish a report of their findings.