Residential care homes should have the ability to update their residents GP medical records the health secretary has suggested as he announced that the controversial 'Better Care Fund' is becoming reality. Jeremy Hunt told social services that the fund will allocate £5.3bn over the next year to integrate health and social - up from the £3.8bn originally planned.
Hunt said the fund "for the first time anywhere in the world is integrating health and social care across an entire health economy".
Acknowledging widespread scepticism about the initiative, he said: "Critics said there wasn't the appetite among local councils or the NHS. The papers criticised it and opposition politicians called for it to be halted and when they were proved wrong said it didn't do enough."
He said that 97% of the 151 plans for the pooled health and social care budgets have been approved, supporting at least 18,000 individuals in new roles carrying out care in the community. “Taken together, these plans will mean savings [to the NHS] of £500m in the first year alone. More importantly in terms of patient care, they will mean 163,000 fewer hospital stays or 447 fewer hospital admissions every single day; and 100,000 fewer unnecessary days spent in hospital in total through organising better delayed discharges."
Hunt urged local authorities and the NHS to be more ambitious with their plans for record sharing. "Shouldn't residential care homes be able, with a patient's consent, to update someone's condition onto their GP record on a daily basis?" He said the government's policy of having named GPs for all over-75s would be "much more meaningful if the responsible GP was able to check on someone's condition on a daily basis just by looking at their record on a computer".
Labour's shadow minister for care and older people, Liz Kendall MP, described the Better Care Fund as "depressingly unambitious", saying that it integrated only 4% of total spending on the NHS and social care. "With our care services in crisis, we need far bigger and bolder plans for reform," she said. "Labour will ensure the full integration of the NHS and social care, underpinned by our £2.5 billion a year transformation fund which will help kick start the changes we need to ensure our care services are fit for the future."