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Long term plan: ‘missed opportunity’ for social care green paper

Long term plan: ‘missed opportunity’ for social care green paper
By Valeria Fiore Reporter
7 January 2019

The NHS long term plan is a ‘missed opportunity’ for the Government, which hasn’t yet published its adult social care green paper, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

There are still only partial details on when the social care green paper will be published.

Speaking to Sky News yesterday, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said that the document will be released ‘in the coming weeks’.

He added: ‘Clearly, there’s a big focus on one other big subject as well in Parliament at the moment but the green paper is well-developed and it fits with and goes alongside this long term plan for the NHS.’

The green paper has been delayed several times. It was originally due to come out in the summer of 2017 but was later postponed to the end of 2017 and again to July 2018.

The deadline was further pushed back to the autumn in 2018, with the green paper supposed to come out with the long term plan by 21 December 2018, before being postponed to early January 2019.

Working with local government

A greater collaboration between health bodies and local government is at the heart of the long term plan, which is allocating a fund of £4.5bn to primary, community and mental health care.

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Responding to the NHS Long Term Plan, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said:

‘The plan has a much needed focus on prevention, early support and reducing health inequalities as well as promising investment in primary, community and mental health services.’

Properly funded health services

However, Mr Hudspeth said, the ambition for a new service model set out in the long term plan ‘can only be fully realised if adult social care and public health services in councils are also properly funded’.

He added: ‘We feel this is a missed opportunity for the Government to also launch its long-awaited adult social care green paper and proposals for the sustainable funding of these services.’

Mr Hudspeth renewed the LGA’s calls for the Government to close the £3.6bn funding gap concerning adult social care and reverse the £600m in reductions to councils’ public health grants.

Local authorities are expected to receive a £650m funding grant for social care in 2019/20, as part of the 2018 Budget.

Responding to the NHS long term plan, Glen Garrod, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said:

‘It is encouraging that the new plan recognises the importance of prevention. However it is hard to see how this can be delivered with continuing cuts to public health budgets, where spending per person has fell by nearly a quarter since 2015/16.

‘As the previous NHS Five Year Forward View recognised, an effective NHS depends on adequately funded social care – the two services are inter-dependent.

Now that there is a long term plan in place for the NHS, it is deeply disappointing that the promised green paper setting out proposals for sustainable long term funding for social care has still not been published.

‘The green paper and the NHS long term plan should have been developed in parallel. A major opportunity has been missed. The absence of clarity and certainty about future social care funding represents a major risk to the ambitions of this NHS plan.’

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