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DH launches 'engagement exercise' on social care policy

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Patients and providers will be asked how they would like NHS and social services to work more closely together, as part of government efforts to redesign the “unfair” and “confusing” care system.

The Caring for the Future exercise will help pinpoint priorities for future policy, said the Department of Health, which has drafted in key figures from health and social care to lead the project.

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The integration of health and social care services and the funding of social care are among key topics up for discussion.

Care services minister Paul Burstow said the current care system had to change.

“People tell me that it is unfair, confusing and unpopular, which is why we need to act and ensure the system is sustainable for the long term,” he said.

“I want to see high quality care that gives people choice in how their needs and ambitions are met, and helps them to live independent, active and healthy lives.”

Manchester GP Robert Varnam and local authority boss Geoff Alltimes, chief executive of Hammersmith & Fulham LBC, have been appointed to lead work on integration, working with the NHS Future Forum.

They will gather views on where services should be better integrated both within the NHS and between health and social services in areas like the management of long-term conditions, care of older people and handovers from one part of the system to another.

Alex Fox, chief executive of NAAPS, the umbrella body for smaller-scale adult social care schemes, will lead on the theme of prevention early and intervention, including ways NHS and other providers can be “encouraged and incentivised” to focus on this more.

The other key themes are quality and workforce development, shaping local “care markets”, increased personalisation of care and the role of financial services.

Findings from the three-month consultation exercise will help inform the development of a care and support white paper planned for Spring next year.

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