Health bill delay ‘could damage long-term care reform’

Delays to the government's health legislation could undermine the long-term reform of care funding, outgoing Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Richard Jones (pictured) has warned.

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Delays to the government’s health legislation could undermine the long-term reform of care funding, outgoing Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Richard Jones has warned.

With the Commission on Funding of Care and Support due to report in July, Jones raised concerns that the delay in the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill may mean that the commission’s conclusions are overshadowed.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has announced a two-month “pause” in the passage of the bill in order to listen to concerns and make some amendments to his controversial plans to hand over much of the health budget to GP consortia and inject more competition into the NHS.

Objections to the bill will be heard by a panel of professionals set up by government.

Jones warned that this could mean that the bill would not resume its progress through the House of Commons for another three months, around the time that the care funding commission, chaired by economist Andrew Dilnot, reports.

“I’m really concerned that Dilnot might not find the space or traction he will need,” warned Jones, who steps down next week as Adass president, to be succeeded by Peter Hay.

Jones said sector leaders needed to “get behind a strong set of messages that you can’t continue to ignore long-term care”.

The Dilnot commission – along with the conclusions of the Law Commission’s review of adult social care law, due to report in May – will inform a White Paper on adult social care this autumn and legislation next year.

Richard Kemp, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at the Local Government Association, said he believed that as a result of the delay the Health and Social Care Bill may not become law until October or November.

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