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Social care plans demand robust funding system

The BMA has welcomed government proposals to reform adult social care but says more funding is needed.

The comments are in response to the Department of Health’s Draft Care and Support Bill, published for consultation in July.

Doctors leaders say the draft bill is ‘an important first step in reforming the current complex, unsustainable and inefficient system of social care’, but call on the government to legislate as soon as possible and put in place ‘robust plans for funding’.

The BMA says spending on social care could reduce ‘inappropriate use of NHS resources’ by cutting the number and length of hospital stays.

‘Without a solution to the ongoing funding crisis, the social care system will continue to struggle under the pressure of an ageing population with complex health and social care needs,’ the association says.

Call for personalised care

It suggests that care should be personalised so the views of users and their carers and families are taken into account.

But it expresses reservations about ‘the expense, complexity and adverse effects of basing a system of social care commissioning on the choices and decisions of individuals holding personal budgets, rather than for populations and communities as a whole’.

The response emphasises that the treatment of patients must be based on their needs rather than where they live.

It says: ‘The current system presents insuperable barriers to recipients of social care when they want to move to different parts of the UK.’

The association adds that delays in assessment and provision of social care can lead to an unnecessary burden being placed on the healthcare system.

National service variations

The BMA welcomes a duty on local authorities to support continuity of care when individuals move areas, but calls for further action to address variable levels of service across the country by providing national eligibility criteria.

It says doctors should be encouraged to play a leading role in any initiatives to integrate health and social care.

The bill covers a number of other issues. The BMA stresses that it is essential that changes to education and training are implemented properly. It also supports the establishment of the Health Research Authority.

However, the association does not support proposals to abolish the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority.