Delegates debate social care policies

The Liberal Democrats blasted the government’s record on
social care last week, pledging to end the “artificial barriers
between health and social care”.

In a scathing attack on the government’s policies, party
spokesperson for social care Paul Burstow MP accused it of failing
older people.

During the 90-minute debate on the party’s social care
document, which contained policies ranging from direct payments to
recruitment issues, Burstow argued that the problems blighting the
care home sector had led to “meltdown”.

He said 74,000 care home places had been lost in the past seven
years and readmissions to hospitals of older people had rocketed by
23 per cent in the past year. The government’s “obsession”
with tick-boxes and fines for delayed discharge meant that 28,000
older people who were readmitted to hospital died within six

“More than 140,000 people over-75 are readmitted into hospital
each year because they are ejected too quickly without support,” he

He also said that by making a u-turn on the environmental
minimum standards for care homes for older people, the government
had achieved “a double whammy of botched regulation and poor
standards,” Burstow said.

The debate also voted to abolish delayed discharge fines for
local authorities and hand the money straight to local authorities
to pay for investment in improvements to capacity such as
community, intermediate and long-term care.

Ian Mack, chairperson of the Liberal Democrat social care
working group, described the document as “a defining moment for our
party in developing our policy for social care provision.

“We will ensure that social care is no longer the poor relation
to health,” he added.

Two amendments to the social care document were also passed by
delegates, one of which would tighten up the relationship between
the General Social Care Council and its equivalent bodies in the
rest of the UK.

The other amendment, which focused on last month’s
children’s green paper, called for the new children’s
commissioner to be independent of government and to have the
ability to lead inquiries and investigations with unlimited access
to information and organisations. It should also report to
parliament and be supported by a regional network to meet the needs
of the 11 million children in England.

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