Norman Lamb writes… A year at the Department of Health

Many of you who are councillors will know that yesterday was the first day of the annual National Children and Adult Services conference has been taking place these last three days. When I attended last year, I had only been in my role as Care Minister for a few weeks. Preparing for my speech this year, I was reflecting on quite how much we have achieved over the past twelve months.

In the past year, we have made significant progress in delivering some of the recommendations made by Andrew Dilnot on financing social care. We have launched the first NHS Mandate, enshrining for the first time the need for mental health conditions to be put on an equal footing with physical health. Only last week, we announced that Continuing Care patients would be given a “right to have” a Personal Health Budget.  And an unwavering focus on delivering on the Liberal Democrats’ “Better Care Promise” has led to a package of changes aimed at driving up standards across the health and care system, and holding organisations properly to account when mistakes are made and unacceptable standards of occur. For the first time ever, where serious failings occur, directors of care homes, hospitals, and care providers will be held personally and criminally liable.

These are substantial, essential changes that have been ducked by previous governments, and they are happening because of Liberal Democrats. I think that we can be proud of these achievements.

These changes also come at a time when budgets are tight – although we have increased spending in real terms in each budget under this Government, and invested significant amounts in social care. Services also face the challenge of doing more with finite resources as we manage the effects of an aging population. We need to use resources more intelligently, to deliver care that is more joined-up, more preventative, and more focused on a person’s overall wellbeing.

On Thursday, I was delighted to be able to set out the first details of the way that a new £3.8bn fund will be allocated in order to drive a grassroots revolution in joined up services throughout the health and care system. Announced as part of the Spending Review earlier this year, the Integration Transformation Fund will be used to finance shared commissioning of services between the NHS and local authority social care.

It will focus on making organisations act early to prevent people reaching crisis point, and to make sure that care is responding to their needs. By 15 February next year, every local area will have developed a joint plan for how the money will be used – and these plans will have to be agreed by the local NHS commissioners and the Local Authority, along with their Health and Wellbeing Boards, in discussion with local health and care providers. £1 billion of the fund will be linked to the results that each local area achieves in delivering the agreed plan, based on measures that are likely to include reducing emergency admissions and delayed discharge from hospitals, and improving patient experience across health and care services.

Thursday’s announcement is a significant step in achieving the culture change throughout our health and care system that is badly needed. By providing a clear – and immediate – financial incentive for local services to design more joined-up and patient-centred care, we are moving closer to the sort of health service Britain deserves in the 21st century.

* Norman Lamb is MP for North Norfolk and was Liberal Democrat Minister of State at the Department of Health until May 2015. He now chairs the Science and Technology Select Committee

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One Comment

  • Helen Dudden 18th Oct '13 - 8:32pm

    I have today, been trying to explain to my MP Don Foster, the importance of children, and how we should respect their needs.

    Do you feel it is important to maintain international law, and prevent the problems that are being caused when children suffer from the effects of being abducted? Like self harm and anorexia.

    Do you have a regard for the law even though it passes through international law? do you feel you should bother with the subject?

    I feel that if problems can be prevented then it becomes worthwhile. Anorexia have no cure ,as such.

    Have you ever seen an anorexic child?

    I understand that your Party has no interest in the subject, it is a post code lottery as to how much help is out there.

    I feel that there should be something in place to help, where an MP is not interested.

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