60 second interview with shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien on Tory policies for adult social care

What are the Conservative priorities in adult social care?
The question of funding looms large but we are also focusing on more effective personalised care, and supporting and championing carers.

The government’s white paper, Your health, your care, your say, calls for a shift to more preventive and personalised social care for adults. Would you continue this?
It is clearly right to try and reduce the number of unplanned acute episodes and good social care is key to achieving that. Our public services improvement policy group is looking at ways to take this agenda forward.

What are the main ways you propose dealing with the ageing population and the challenges this will present?
Built to Last, our party’s statement of its aims and values, commits us to “increasing financial security in old age by reducing means-testing and restoring the incentive to save for a pension, paid for by raising the retirement age.”
I am also working hard on the question of sustainable and affordable funding for long-term care.

The government has pledged to help disabled people live more independently and has introduced measures designed to do this including direct payments and individual budgets.

Would the Conservatives continue with these initiatives?
Conservatives have championed individual budgets and direct payments. We also see no reason why the principles should not be extended to health care, which would go some way to lessen the gulf between health and social care – something Labour have continually failed to do.

Will the Conservative party provide more support to carers?
We have outlined our commitment to “measures, including clearer rights to respite care, to recognise the role played by voluntary carers, without whom local social services would be wholly incapable of meeting the needs of the disabled and the chronically ill” and to “enabling people to strike a better balance between work and life through flexible working – with government setting an example by making the British public sector a world leader in flexible working.”

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