Lib Dems push joint working up agenda

The Liberal Democrats emerged as the party most vocally committed
to social care at a pre-election debate at the King’s Fund last

Of the three major parties given a few minutes to outline their
priorities for the Department of Health, only Liberal Democrat
health spokesperson Paul Burstow included a social care

He restated his party’s commitment to free personal care for older
people, saying it was fairer than the current system and would
encourage closer joint working between health and social

Health minister John Hutton focused exclusively on the NHS in his
speech, while shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley also failed to
include any specific social care policies among the Conservatives’

However, he did call for proposals for increased choice in the NHS
to be extended to mental health patients to tackle the “loss of
control associated with mental illness”.

He joined Burstow in calling for people with long-term conditions
to receive direct payments for health services, saying this would
promote personalisation and joint working between the NHS and
social care.

Burstow said: “There is no doubt that social care is the poor
relation of the NHS. It has been neglected under Labour and the

But Hutton attacked the Lib Dems’ proposal to transfer health
commissioning to local government to democratise the NHS and unify
health and social care.

He said: “There’s no support within any quarter of the NHS for
this. I think it would be a diversion.”

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