Elderly 'passed like parcels' in care system, say MPs

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) should create a single process for buying health and social care for older people, according to MPs.

A report from the House of Commons health select committee found patients are being 'passed like parcels' between disconnected services.

The committee advised that GPs must 'identify much earlier and assess more clearly the needs of carers providing essential informal care to the old and the vulnerable'.

Select committee chairman Stephen Dorrell (Con, Charnwood), said: 'It is impossible to deliver either high quality or efficient services when the patient is passed like a parcel from one part of the system to another, without any serious attempt to look at their needs in the round.

'This obvious truth has often been repeated, but seldom acted upon.'

With funding for NHS and social care and housing coming from different sources, attempts to join up services have been 'disappointing', he said.

CCGs should create a single commissioning process for older people’s health, care and housing services in their area, the committee recommended.

It also called on the government to abandon its attempt to create 'artificial' distinctions between health, social care and social housing in its three separate outcomes frameworks.

Instead, elderly people's social care needs a clear, single framework, it recommended.

'This would improve outcomes by making it easier to move money around the local health, housing and social care system. It will also play a significant part in delivering the Nicholson Challenge for the NHS of 4% efficiency saving every year over the next four years,' said Mr Dorrell.

Dilnot report
The government should also accept the recommendations in the Dilnot report for a series of caps on care costs and identify the level at which it thinks these caps should be set.

NHS Confederation deputy policy director Jo Webber, said: 'The committee is absolutely right that the health and social care system has to be better integrated. The starting point must be to find a long term solution to social care funding as, without reform, the system is on the brink of collapse.'

But she warned the Health Bill reform and the divisions in services created risked fragmenting services further.

Dr Linda Patterson, clinical vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians, said better integration of services would allow people to stay longer in their own homes.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'The best proposal of how to end the unacceptable financial burden on vulnerable people is from the Dilnot Commission; but we desperately need more money too.

'If we don’t act now, the spiralling number of people being forced into hospital because of insufficient care threatens to bankrupt the NHS.'

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