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More protection needed for care home failings

15th September 2011

A report from the National Audit Office has found that more needs to be done to protect people from failing care services in England.

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The NAO warning follows the recent problems with Southern Cross homes and says greater safeguards are needed when such organisations run into financial trouble.

At a time that demand for care is rising, the Department of Health is considering whether to oversee the £23bn market more closely.

Plans to give money direct to users in England to choose their own care services was started by Labour and are already being used in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

The NAO report, Oversight of User Choice and Provider Competition in Care Markets, found most people who use personal budgets to pay for social care report improved wellbeing but some were worse off while others found it difficult to buy care.

It also said: “The recent financial problems faced by Southern Cross illustrate the need for government to develop a system to address serious provider failure.”

Head of the NAO Amyas Morse said: “As the population ages and more pressure is put on social care, the Department of Health must ensure that its oversight of the care market is robust, that people have access to the information and support that they need and that it has arrangements in place in the event of large providers getting into financial difficulty.”

Care services minister Paul Burstow described the report as “a helpful contribution” to the government’s wider work on market oversight for social care.

 

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