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NHS cannot avoid their duties to carers

The Government has made an immediate response to our ‘NHS Not Making the Break for Carers’ report by prioritising carers in the NHS Operating Framework for 2012/13. The Operating Framework is the set of requests given to the NHS by the Department of Health every year, guiding their priorities.

Following our report, the Government has said that carers is one of only three areas that have been designated as requiring “particular attention”. Think of all the illnesses, diseases, long-term conditions and medical issues the NHS is concerned with, and then consider what it means that carers are up there as the most important priority.

Of course, the reason that the NHS needs to pay “particular attention” is because they have not been doing enough to support carers, despite additional money and Government requests to do so. This Operating Framework is a sign that Health Ministers Paul Burstow and Andrew Lansley are losing their patience having been quite clear what they expected from the NHS in terms of supporting carers.

What they didn’t expect was that most Primary Care Trusts (PCTs – local NHS bodies) would not publish plans and budgets to support carers despite being asked to; and that some would continue not to invest a single pound in services to support carers, despite receiving additional money for this.

So for 2012/13, PCTs need to agree plans and budgets with local authorities and local carers’ charities. These plans should identify how much of the total is being spent on breaks and indicate the number of breaks that should be available from that funding. Importantly, PCTs have to publish these details on their websites by 30th September 2012 at the latest.

But we can’t wait until then to act. Carers and carers’ charities need to be contacting their local PCT now to find out how they will be improving on what they were doing this year. PCTs by ranking in terms of spending on services for carers and ask the non-Executive Directors of your PCT what they will do to improve that.

The NHS has a duty to those people who have often sacrificed so much to care for people, and they also have a duty of care to their patients who are otherwise being cared for by their friends and family. Our message should echo that of the Government’s; the NHS can no longer avoid their duty to carers.

Take care
Gordon

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

David Cameron requests investigation into NHS support for carers

The Prime Minister, David Cameron has written to the Department of Health asking them to investigate how the money

David Cameron on GMTV

David Cameron has been talking about establishing a right to respite for carers

committed to providing breaks for carers is being allocated and used by Primary Care Trusts. He has advised that this is an “issue of personal importance to me” and that “we must support carers who do the most valuable work often at great personal cost to themselves. We must ensure that carers are provided with the support they need.”

Cameron’s intervention came about after a letter from Theresa Villiers MP, who attended our Give Carers a Break campaign launch earlier this year. It also comes after previous Department of Health action on this issue and we await the Department of Health’s response to this request.

Previously, the Department of Health did act after our report detailed the failure of PCTs to develop plans and budgets to support carers with local carers’ charities, as Government requested. They requested that all PCTs advise by 2nd September if they had published plans and budgets to support carers. It was expected that PCTs missed this date only in exceptional circumstances.

Government is now clarifying some of the information returned, and we have also started our review of whether PCTs have published plans and budgets and how much is being allocated.

Government have also said that they will release guidance next month giving clear expectations of how Primary Care Trusts (and Clinical Commissioning Groups, successors to PCTs) should support carers in the next financial year 2012/13.

I hope these are steps forward to real change.

Take care

Gordon

October 10, 2011 Posted by | breaks for carers, David Cameron | , , , | 4 Comments

Cameron, Clegg and Milliband agree to social care reform talks

Trekkies love it when Captain Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) orders in a commanding, deep voice “make it so” and in an instant his crew set to work. Mistakenly, we often think that politicians have similar power.

Paul Burstow MP, Health Minister, honestly wants the NHS to do more to support carers. He thought providing additional money (£400m) and requesting the NHS to work with carers’ organisations on plans and budgets would provide this. Of course,  our report showed that this has not happened. Burstow told us at the Lib Dem conference that he was upset at this, was trying to improve the situation and will give even stronger guidance that the NHS has to prioritise carers.

But he cannot make the NHS do this because they have local decision making powers and no one person can control everything that happens in an organisation as large as the NHS.

The Government is actually structured so that power is shared amongst many people – Prime Minister, the Cabinet, MPs, Lords and other advisers. Some hold more than others, but each have some power with nobody having absolute power. And they all have their own priorities fighting to be the one Government acts upon.

This is why Burstow has appealed for disabled people, carers and charities to get angry and make a racket of noise regarding social care reform following the Dilnot and Law Commissions’ recommendations. He wants reform and says that he will be angry if the Lib Dems does not make this a priority.

Norman Lamb MP, chief adviser to Nick Clegg, said he wants social care reform in this Parliament and that any reform must mean more money for social care. However, his message was that it will only happen if politicians keep hearing from the public that reform must happen. Otherwise it will slip down the list of priorities.

Cameron, Clegg and Miliband have agreed to cross party talks on social care reform. This is a good start but only a start. The Government have announced another listening exercise for the reform of social care. This can either be used to build consensus on future reform or delay the need for a decision pushing reform further down the list of priorities.

Burstow and Lamb understand the urgent need to reform social care but not everybody does. I was left aghast when John Hemming MP (Lib Dem) said he did not see the connection between reforming social care and helping workplace productivity and employment, despite having just heard from John Lewis Partnership that more and more people are struggling to combine work with caring because support from social services is lacking.

We have to realise that for some, social care reform is not an issue or a priority. We need to change that. We need to make sure leaders and MPs from all parties hear how important it is to millions of people. It’s time to make some noise.

Gordon

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Carers Strategy, Conservatives, David Cameron, Liberal Democrats, Party Conferences, Social Care | , , | 10 Comments

Give carers the break they deserve

I need to ask you a favour.

In 2009,The Labour government did a good thing by including £50m in allocations to English Primary Care Give Carers a BreakTrusts  (organises your local health services) to increase support for carers. In 2010, they included £100m. These were good policies let down by poor implementation as our research showed only 25% of the total £150m was used to increase support for carers.

The new Coalition Government has built on the good policy by including £400m over 4 years in the allocations to PCTs to focus on providing breaks for carers. They have also requested that each Primary Care Trust works with local authorities and carers’ organisations to publish policies, plans and budgets to support carers. This is important because it means PCTs can be held to account for how they spend the £400m.

But this is where I need your favour.

In this era of local decision making, it is local people who must hold PCTs to account. It is local people who must ask their PCTs whether they have spoken with carers and carers’ organisations about providing breaks. It is local people who must request to see the PCT’s policies, plans and budgets to support carers. And if you don’t get answers from your PCT, write to your MP and councillor or visit them at their surgery and explain to them why you are concerned that your PCT is not doing what it should to support carers.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a carer, I still need this favour from you. And with one in ten people currently providing care and three in five people becoming a carer at some point in their life, it is likely that whether your PCT uses this money to support carers or not may affect you or your friends and family now or in the very near future.

I, and over 5 million carers in England, need your help to persuade PCTs that breaks for carers are not a luxury; that they are desperately needed by people who sacrifice so much to care for others that they often reach breaking point, jeopardising their own health and are simply crying out for some help and a break.

Yesterday in Parliament, we launched a campaign supported by MPs from all parties called Give Carers A Break. Our website has information on this campaign and how you can get involved.

Please, help us to give carers a break.

Thank you

Gordon

Further Information:

May 24, 2011 Posted by | breaks for carers, Budget, Young carers | , , , , , , | 7 Comments