Jeremy Hunt has raised the possibility that councils could be given “Ofsted-style” ratings for social care commissioning.
Today in his first speech since the renaming of his department to include social care, Mr Hunt said he feels the “weight of stalled reform programmes on my shoulders” and pledged a “relentless and unswerving focus on providing the highest standards of care – whatever a person’s age or condition”.
The health and social care secretary said the social care green paper, now scheduled for before the summer, will propose an extension of the approach used in the Care Quality Comission’s reviews of the interface between health and social care, which ”highlighted variation in performance between local authorities across a range of measures”.
He added: ”So we now need to ask whether the time is right to expand that approach, and one of the questions the green paper will pose is whether we can build on the learning from the introduction of independent Ofsted-style ratings for providers to spread best practice to commissioners as well.”
Mr Hunt said the seven principles of reform, which will be detailed in the green paper, are:
- quality and safety embedded in service provision
- whole person, integrated care with the NHS and social care systems operating as one
- the highest possible control given to those receiving support
- a valued workforce
- better practical support for families and carers
- a sustainable funding model for social care supported by a diverse, vibrant and stable market
- greater security for all – for those born or developing a care need early in life and for those entering old age who do not know what their future care needs may be
He also announced a £1m pilot across Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire to provide everyone who receives social care with a joint health and social care plan.
Mr Hunt said sourcing funding for social care could involve different contributions from people of different ages.
He said: “There may be changes that are equitable and achievable for younger people that would not be either of those for the generation approaching retirement.
“And part of the outcome of this process must be much greater public understanding of where the costs – often inappropriately – currently lie both for the state and individuals in every age cohort.”
The health and social care secretary also said a 10-year workforce strategy to “align” health and social care would be published later this year.
He called for “a partnership between the state and individuals” and said the green paper will include proposals on establishing a “risk-pool” for people with complex care needs who are “disproportionately financially affected”.
Mr Hunt added: “We need a relentless and unswerving focus on providing the highest standards of care – whatever a person’s age or condition.
“This means a commitment to tackle poor care with minimum standards enforced throughout the system so that those using social care services are always kept safe and treated with the highest standards of dignity and compassion.
“Resolving this will take time. But that must not be an excuse to put off necessary reforms.”
The health and social care secretary also said reforms must embrace changes in technology and medicine “that are profoundly reshaping our world”.
He added: “By reforming the system in line with these principles everyone – whatever their age – can be confident in our care and support system, confident that they will be in control, confident that they will have quality care and confident that wider society will support them.”