MPs to probe long-term care funding

The House of Commons' health select committee is to examine the funding of long-term care to help shape the government's plan to overhaul the system.

The House of Commons’ health select committee is to examine the funding of long-term care to help shape the government’s plan to overhaul the system.

Its new chair, former Conservative health secretary Stephen Dorrell, promised the committee, whose job is to scrutinise health and adult social care, would look at the issue to help forge a cross-party consensus on reform.

Any inquiry held by the committee would run alongside the government’s independent commission on long-term care funding, which is due to be set up shortly and will report within a year.

Care services minister Paul Burstow intends to legislate to create a new funding system, on the back of the commission’s conclusions, in the 2011-12 parliamentary session.

Dorrell, who contributed to a cross-party report on care funding before the election that also called for a consensus to be forged on reform, told Community Care: “The government can’t continue to put this into the long grass for two reasons.

“Even to maintain the current standard of care delivered to the elderly is going to cost a rising sum of money and most people would argue that current standards of care falls short of what we would want delivered in a civilised society.

“We need to see a funding arrangement that at the very least has the capacity to maintain current standards of care delivered and preferably allow us to narrow the gap between what we would all in the abstract regard as an acceptable standard of care and the experience of the service at the sharp end.”

Other areas that the committee will focus on will be the use of resources with relation to the increased role for GP commissioning and the role of the acute sector in primary care as well as to look at the relationship between management and professionals in a target-driven culture.

Dorrell said: “To see health and social care as a service where staff are told what to do and given targets is to belittle professional commitment and obligation. One of the challenges in this policy area is to enlarge the scope not diminish it of professional commitment and obligation.”

He said: “We shan’t be shy of contributing to current debate, but equally we shall be looking for ways of adding value on a cross-party basis.”

The first meeting of the committee is likely to take place in the first week of July.

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