The Health Select Committee report on Social Care is clear and unequivocal in saying that current funding for social care is inadequate, and that planned efficiency gains cannot be achieved without fundamental reform. We agree.
The reforms which the committee has in mind are nothing if not radical. A single health and social care system for older people is proposed, with a new legal framework which should cover both health and social care.
To achieve this the committee proposes a single local commissioning process. This should set its sights beyond just health and social care to include other services such as housing. Integration of commissioning would be led by a single high powered commissioner, whose role would be to overcome conflicting local priorities and to ‘create agents within the system who have both the ability and the incentive to drive the necessary process of fundamental change in service provision’. The commissioner would be accountable to NHS Commissioning boards, Local Authorities, service users and to local democratic arrangements. A single outcomes framework would replace the current Adult social Care and NHS outcome frameworks.
Integration is seen as being not an objective in itself but ‘an essential tool to improve outcomes for individuals and communities’. A pragmatic approach to integration, with the emphasis on integrated processes and outcomes, is very welcome. Proposals that the commissioner should be accountable to the local community and to services also deserve strong support. We look forward to taking part in the debate that this report is sure to stimulate.
In the meantime, we hope the government heeds the commission recommendtion that it should press on with reform, and should implement the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations on care funding as a matter of urgency. We couldn’t agree more.
Age UK are calling on the Government to reform the social care system. Find out more about Age UK’s Care in Crisis campaign and how to sign up to our petition.