Care minister Paul Burstow has slammed primary care trusts for failing carers after a survey revealed more than 90% had failed to produce plans on spending their share of an additional £400m of government cash for carers’ breaks.
A survey by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers (PRTC) and Crossroads Care found that only 9% of PCTs had produced revised carers’ plans and budgets for 2011-12 in partnership with councils, as required by the government’s NHS Operating Framework.
The requirement, issued in November, was designed to ensure that PCTs accounted for £400m in funding for breaks from 2011-15. In the past, money earmarked for carers’ services has not been spent as desired.
Care services minister Paul Burstow said of the survey finding: “It is unacceptable if PCTs are not meeting their responsibilities as set out in the this year’s NHS Operating Framework, which states that PCTs must pool budgets with local authorities to provide carers’ breaks.”
The survey found:
• 12% would not be publishing budgets and plans for carers in 2011-12.
• 25% had published plans and budgets for this period but had not been revised them since the £400m of funding was announced.
• 54% said they intended to publish revised plans, with publication dates ranging from July 2011 to March 2012.
The PRTC said the government needed to step in to ensure the money reached carers and force them to publish updated plans by October 2011. Previous research by the charities found that, of the £150m for carers’ breaks given to PCTs between 2009 and 2011, only a quarter was spent on carers.
Liz Fenton, chief executive of the PRTC, said the government needed to publish how much money had gone to each PCT for 2011-15, so that they could be held to account by local groups.
“Previous governments have moved toward decentralisation and the current government has continued with that, but for that to work people need the information,” she said.
Burstow echoed Fenton’s comments: “PCTs must ensure plans for carers’ services are made available to local people so that they can hold their organisations to account for delivery. I expect every PCT to deliver on these requirements.”
The PRTC also found that it was questionable how many PCTs had followed government guidance to produce carers’ plans with local carers’ groups.
While 82% of the 112 PCTs surveyed said they had involved carers’ groups in the production of plans, including those yet to be published, only 40% of local carers’ groups said they had been involved.
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