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Hunt calls for 'revolution' in personal responsibility for health

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Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has pledged to lead a “personal responsibility revolution” that aims to see more people taking care of their elderly relatives at home.

Mr Hunt made the promised during a speech to the Local Government Association conference last week in which he predicted the country would need more than 38,000 new care home beds in the next five years.

He said: “That’s 100 more care homes a month for the next five years.

“The impact of that on [local authorities] which fund 40% of care home beds would be disastrous…the financial impact on the NHS would be equally severe. We should also note the hard-headed economic arguments that impact on this debate.”

Mr Hunt highlighted ways of tackling the escalating demand for social care in other countries, including France and China, which have passed laws requiring people to visit their elderly relatives regularly.

“France passed an elderly care law in 2004 requiring its citizens to keep in touch with their elderly parents,” he added. “They did this after a heat wave left 15,000 elderly dead.”

As such a law was “not the British way”, he had instead asked care minister Alastair Burt to develop a new carers’ strategy that would bring about a “revolution in personal responsibility”.

“We will look at best practice from around the country and the world to answer the big questions of what do we do to support people who are caring now, and, crucially to support those who will have a caring role in future,” the health secretary said.

“Attitudes need to change too, so it becomes as normal to talk about older care as about childcare”.

Mr Hunt pointed to figures from the Office for National Statistics that showed a “welcome increase” in the proportion of “multi-generation” households in the UK to 16%.

This proportion, however, compared poorly to 39% in Italy, 40% in China and 65% in Japan, he indicated.

The health secretary said that increased personal responsibility on the part of the public was essential if NHS and social care services were to cope with their respective funding challenges.

“To deliver the highest standards of health and care the people who use those services need to play their part too: personal responsibility needs to sit squarely alongside system accountability”, Mr Hunt told the conference.”

“I want Britain to be the best country in the world to grow old in,” he added.

“But the government - nationally or locally - can’t do this alone. Attitudes need to change too, so that it becomes as normal to talk about elderly care with your boss as about childcare

As part of his personal responsibility drive, Mr Hunt also announced plans to print the cost of a medicine on drugs dispensed by the NHS costing more than £20, alongside a label saying “funded by UK taxpayers”.

Introduced next year, this labelling would not just reduce waste but also make more patients take their medication in line with instructions.

“People who use our services need to know that in the end they pay the price for…waste”.

Councils to be measured on integration progress

A new metric is to be introduced to capture progress towards integrated care, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.

Addressing delegates at the LGA conference this morning he praised the work of councils and the NHS on the better care fund

He said: “One of the things that’s missing is effective metrics, we need to know how well it’s going area to area. I’m developing a set of metrics bringing together work on the better care fund and health and wellbeing.”

He said the first set of metrics would be published in December and would help ensure integration continued at pace.

Talking about the funding gap he said the government could only fund the NHS and social care properly if there was a strong economy and stressed councils and the NHS must approach the challenge together.

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