Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were united in their criticism
of delayed discharges fines last week, three weeks after the system
was launched in shadow form.
Shadow health minister Tim Loughton said the system of fining local
authorities for delayed discharges from hospital could only serve
to undermine the good working relations that had been built up
between health and social services, and pledged that a Conservative
government would repeal the Community Care (Delayed Discharges) Act
“Peter is robbed to pay Paul regardless of whether Peter is in a
position to do anything about it in the first place,” Loughton
He called for a greater share of the health budget to go to social
care, pointing out that social services had been “working on the
crumbs” despite the requirements of the job increasing and
recruitment issues worsening.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Paul Burstow said that the
government’s focus on targets had led to an emphasis on penalties
“as a means of tackling all problems – from delinquency to
bed-blocking” – rather than tackling issues of funding.
“This completely ignores the legacy of decades of under-investment
in social services. The loss of care home places, the fall in the
numbers receiving home care, the shortages of care staff – those
are all signs of a system under pressure,” said Burstow.
He promised that a Liberal Democrat government would commission an
inquiry into social care funding to find out how much extra cash
social services needed.