Carers UK chief says dedicated money is not being spent on short-breaks
Carers in England are being denied short breaks promised under the national carers strategy because dedicated NHS funding is not being spent on services, according to campaigners.
Under the strategy, published last June, primary care trusts have been allocated £50m in 2009-10 to provide planned and emergency breaks, with a further £100m due in 2010-11.
But the chief executive of Carers UK, Imelda Redmond (pictured), said there was no evidence that the funding, which is not ring-fenced, was being spent on its intended purpose, three months after being released.
Many PCTs were unaware they were responsible for the service, Redmond said, despite the fact it was included in the NHS operating framework for 2009-10, which sets NHS priorities for the year.
Redmond, and the chief executives of fellow charities Crossroads and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers have written to NHS chief executive David Nicholson, asking him to issue clear guidance for PCTs on providing short breaks.
“The money might have been made available on 1 April but the announcement was made in June last year. We would have expected trusts to have plans in place before the funding was released,” she said.
The criticism follows concerns raised last month by the Every Disabled Child Matters coalition that PCTs were failing to spend dedicated funding on disabled children and their families, including short breaks.
A Department of Health spokesperson said the programme for carers was “still at a relatively early stage, but the department would hope that carers are still receiving the benefit of this financial support”.
David Stout, director of the NHS Confederation’s PCT Network, urged PCTs to disclose how much funding they give to improve carers services”.
He said: “Each local area will be at a different starting point in developing services for carers and their plans will reflect this.”