Headlines: June 27th, 2007



Local authority leaders have welcomed new guidance on continuing care, unveiled by Health Minister Ivan Lewis, as a step in the right direction but they have warned that the social care system is ‘creaking at the seams’. The new National Framework for NHS Continuing Healthcare is designed to make funding decisions on who is eligible for care fairer, faster and easier to understand.

Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said the guidance would make difficult decisions about nursing arrangements a little easier for individuals, their families and carers but he added, “Councils are pleased that the guidance means a few thousand more people will receive free care but this is a drop in the ocean when considering the demographics of England’s aging population.”

Lord Bruce Lockhart said the social care system was creaking at the seams and he called on the Treasury to be honest about whether it was prepared to fund the care that elderly people deserved and if not to be open about the impact this would have on local services and the burden that was being shifted onto council taxpayers. He continued, “Councils want to provide the services older people need and want, but are increasingly unable to do so because central government funding has not kept pace with the demands of an aging population. This is not a situation that older people deserve or indeed expect.”

Mr.Lewis claimed the new Framework would create consistent access to fully funded care with clear policies for deciding eligibility. It would also abolish different nursing bands for free nursing care, which would release nursing time and reduce repeated patient assessments. The NHS and local authorities will put the Framework into effect from October. It is expected to cost 220 million pounds in its first year.