Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has set out the government’s plan to address key challenges facing the social care system.
Speaking to the Local Government Association at its annual conference in Bournemouth, Hancock laid out a seven-point plan that he said can be worked on “right now” as the government works towards the Spending Review.
The Health and Social Care Secretary highlighted the need to develop Integrated Care Systems, bringing together the NHS and local government.
He focused on areas such as Hampshire, Salford and Leeds, where the NHS and local authorities are pooling budgets, jointly designating lead commissioners and creating more integrated systems.
Secondly, the minister highlighted the role of Health and Wellbeing Boards in bringing together local authorities, NHS commissioners, and elected representatives to create a strategic vision and identify care needs and co-ordinate care.
The minister also announced the introduction of specialist content within the Care Certificate to help staff develop the skills and training they need to support people with learning disabilities, autism or mental health issues.
Hancock pledged to make up to £3 million available this year for care managers to access learning and development so they can improve their skills.
He also highlighted the government’s £3m recruitment campaign to attract the right people into social care and announced a rise in the Carers Innovations Fund from £0.5m to £5m to support informal carers.
Hancock added that the government aimed to provide an additional 5 million people with personalised care within the next decade.
“That means you will have more choice about your care, more control over personal health and social care budgets, and more connection to your community,” he said.
Lastly, the minister stressed the importance of technology in the provision of health and social care.
He said NHSX, a new government unit created to bring the benefits of modern technology to every patient and clinician, “will spread the adoption of tech that helps humans do what only we can do: caring for each other.”
“We’re already seeing everyday assistive tech like Amazon’s Alexa helping elderly and vulnerable people remember to take their medication,” he said.
Commenting on the delayed Social Care Green Paper, Hancock said: “You know we’re committed to publishing the Social Care Green Paper, but it’s been held up by the parliamentary logjam and a lack of cross-party consensus.”
On building a sustainable social care system, Hancock said we need a “long-term solution, preferably cross party” and that direct taxpayer funding will be part of that.
“Over the last four years we have ensured a 11% growth in the funding available for adult social care, including the £650m uplift we secured for this financial year,” he said.
“And securing a fair settlement for social care should a key priority at the Spending Review.”