Home care providers will face hospital bills for people in their care to prevent services relying on 15-minute visits, Labour leader Ed Miliband announced today.
In a speech unveiling Labour’s 10-year plan for the NHS, Miliband said providers would be expected to cover the costs of hospital care if a service user’s health deteriorated.
The policy would be enforced under a ‘year of care’ budget, which would make health and wellbeing boards responsible for single budgets covering a year of health and social care for individuals at greatest risk of hospitalisation.
This would incentivise providers to improve social care and keep people out of hospital, as well as putting a stop to services that rely on 15-minute visits, said Miliband.
Pay and sanctions
Miliband pledged to raise standards in the care sector by banning zero-hours contracts that exploit workers and improve training opportunities by creating apprenticeships.
The party’s NHS plan would see 5,000 additional care workers deployed to the NHS to help people with complex health and social care needs. This would include supporting people who are terminally ill to stay with their family at the end of their life, and those who are leaving hospital and need extra help to move back home.
The plan would also see the Care Quality Commission asked to develop and enforce a ‘care charter’, to standardise the workforce.
A new ‘safety checks’ system would also be created to identify older people who may be at risk of hospitalisation. The software would be operated by GPs and the check would help to identify and prevent falls, cold-related illnesses and loneliness and depression.
Andy Cole, director of corporate affairs at Leonard Cheshire Disability, welcomed the proposals: “Any change that can help bring an end to the inappropriate use of ‘flying’ 15-minute care visits is hugely important and welcome. We need all parties to commit to invest in our care system so that people are not left without the support they need.”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of charity Independent age, added: “15 minute care visits have become a symbol of all that is wrong in today’s chronically underfunded system of adult care but the statement is largely silent on the two huge practical challenges – funding and integration of health and social care.”
In a second statement, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, outlined Labour’s plans to join-up all services from ‘home to hospital’ and bring physical, mental and social care into a single service.
He said the party would invest in more staff for the NHS, including 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs, using Labour’s £2.5bn ‘Time to Care’ fund. This will be raised by cracking down on tax avoidance, a new levy on tobacco firms and the proceeds of a mansion tax on properties worth over £2m.
Labour’s NHS plan would also prioritise investment in young people’s mental health and create a new right to talking therapies in the NHS constitution.
Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund, said: “Burnham is right to put integrated care at the heart of this vision. This echoes the prescription for a single budget and single commissioner for health and social care set out by the Barker Commission.
“The challenge for the Labour Party is to demonstrate how it will provide the funding to implement such a positive vision of the future.”