Minister tells councils that ‘sorting out care home crisis is my key task’

The minister for community care at the Department of Health has
pledged to tackle the crisis in the care and residential homes

Speaking at the Local Government Association conference on
tackling delayed discharge last week, Stephen Ladyman said the
prime minister had “made it clear” when appointing him that one of
the things he had to achieve “is to sort out the problems in the
care homes sector”.

Ladyman was responding to local authorities’ concerns that
they were being held to ransom by care homes over fee increases,
which was creating a shortage of care beds.

“I can only help if you give me feedback,” Ladyman said. “If you
don’t give me ideas then I will still fix these problems but
they will be my ideas.”

He told the conference in London that the lack of capacity,
difficulties in commissioning of places, and deep-rooted
relationship problems between councils and care homes would all
need to be addressed. He has asked the Association of Directors of
Social Services to compile information on the problem.

Ladyman said that delayed discharge reimbursements – or fines –
would be seen as a “blessing” in the future and is confident they
will improve services. He said those local authorities that focused
on joint working, investing in capacity and the needs of patients
were more likely to be successful.

He also promised to keep a close watch on the NHS to see that it
meets its responsibilities under the Community Care (Delayed
Discharge) Act 2003, and ensure the poor financial state and star
ratings of hospitals do not disadvantage social services.

“We are not going to relax our demands on the health service to
co-operate with local government: I expect it to do more than the
act states,” he said. This could mean hospitals notifying social
services that a patient is ready to be assessed for discharge
because “in 90 per cent of cases it can be predicted”.

Ladyman also assured delegates that the extra £800m of
schools funding over the next two years, announced by education
secretary Charles Clarke, should prevent councils having to “raid”
social services budgets to cover school funding shortfalls.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.