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With the Games nearly over, the politics begin..

The Games are nearly over and the politics begin  – but who are carers’ parliamentary champions now?

The sun may be shining but make no mistake – the summer is over. This week saw the expected Cabinet shuffle. No surprise to anyone really that Andrew Lansley moved on – his bruising over the Health and Social Care Act meant his time had come.  We were taking bets in the office on who his successor might be, but no-one predicted the outcome . Jeremy Hunt, I’m sure he would admit himself, has not at any time in his career been notably visible at the helm of campaigns to improve either health or care.

Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson and Sebastian Coe at the Olympics Media Centre

From Olympics to Health Secretary – a tall order for Jeremy Hunt

He has been brought in to persuade us all that the health reforms are all good and will work a treat. Where I am sitting, what I see now is local health professionals and managers, as well as carers, patients and the organisations which support them, entirely unclear how large chunks of this is going to work. Carers Trust and carers’ organisations have spent years working with PCTs so that they begin to understand carers and the kind of support needed, and much of that may now be lost in the transition from one set of decision makers to another. Or alternatively, we may find that little changes except logos, offices and headed paper, with the huge superstructure of the NHS Commissioning Board providing even more bureaucracy than was there before.

So a tall order indeed. Good luck, Mr Hunt. I think you may need it.

In other reshuffle news, here in carer policy land we’re all a bit sad to see Paul Burstow return to the back benches . He was of course, fully involved with the health reforms I’ve just spent half a blog criticising, so he too will have to reflect in five years’ time whether it was all worth it. However what you can say is that no Health Minister, probably  ever, has pushed carers’ issues as far as he has in terms of recognition.  We now have a draft Care and Support Bill with carers written all over it – not perfect, but you can’t miss the carer theme.   He personally took the initiative to put pressure on PCTs to spend money on carers and was supportive of Carers Trust and our campaigns on this. It hasn’t solved everything, and it was never going to in such a short time, but it has made an impact. We’ll miss his role as government champion for carers.  I hope Norman Lamb will take a leaf out of his book, in this respect at least.

And finally, today we have the second reading debate on  the Social Care (Local Sufficiency) and Identification of Carers Bill. Barbara Keeley MP – an incredible advocate for carers – has used her Private Members Bill slot to promote the ways in which carers can be supported and increase the duties on a range of organisations to identify carers. Watch this space for an update on the debate early next week. Good luck Barbara, and thank you – we’re all behind you.

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September 7, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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