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New Department Of Health & Social Care – What Does This Mean For Professional Deputies & Clients?

Monday’s Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister, Theresa May, included the surprise announcement that Jeremy Hunt would not only be staying at the Department of Health but that the department itself would be renamed to include social care.

The department confirmed that it would now have responsibility for the Green Paper on social care for older people, which is expected to be published by the summer with a full public consultation.

We hope that this signals a greater focus on social care in government and the likelihood of greater integration with national health policy.

Fresh attention to funding and capacity problems in the NHS such as cancelled operations and overcrowded Accident and Emergency departments has been highlighted recently. But less coverage has been devoted to the pressures on social care.

Budgets have risen in real terms, but the ageing population and an increase in need among working age adults has left 83% of senior adult social care staff surveyed in 2017 agreeing that they would face quality challenges in 2018-20.

Pressures on the NHS and social care are inextricably linked. When the NHS is unable to admit people with very high levels of need to hospital, social care often ends up paying the bill. Over 60% of respondents in the same survey said that this had resulted in increased demand. Over 50% also agreed that they had encountered increased demand for social care staff to carry out healthcare duties.

Where people need a safe hospital discharge, a social care package or care home placement cannot always be obtained when needed. In 2017, 15% of councils had been fined by the NHS for Delayed Transfers of Care.

In preparation for the Green Paper, the Government has already engaged with a range of experts – not only in care and social work but also funding experts such as the Chief Executive of Legal and General, Nigel Wilson.

The social care budget in 2016/17 was overspent by £366 million.  While some savings have been made through efficiencies, Local Authorities are also responding by reducing services and personal budgets.

Our Community Care Law lawyers see a rise in Local Authorities robustly asserting that people have deliberately ‘deprived themselves’ of capital and should pay for their own care. They are also ‘capping’ budgets for care at home packages at the amount they would pay for a care home placement. In some cases, they fail to assess the full scope of needs and award inadequate personal budgets.

Our Health and Social Care lawyers continue to challenge cost-cutting decisions and policies wherever they are unlawful, with great success.

As Clinical Commissioning Groups continue to limit the NHS Continuing Healthcare spend, the consequences for the health and finances of our clients, and the clients of our Professional Deputies, are severe.

We hope that Monday’s announcement is not merely window-dressing. There needs to be recognition of the urgent need for sufficient and sustainable funding for care for older people, and disabled adults. The bottom line is that whatever the Green Paper proposes, funding must be at the forefront.

If you are a Professional Deputy and would like to find out more about Martin Searle Solicitor’s Services for Professional Deputies & Attorneys, please contact our expert Community Care Law team today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

 

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Sally Ireland

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