Our blog is where we share our opinions and make comments on issues facing older people and volunteering, and preventative care.
Join in the conversation and tell us what you think by leaving a comment.
Westminster Eye: An insight into the week of politics 20 February - 24 February
Monday 20 February
At the beginning of the week Paul Maynard
MP asked the Departments of Health, Justice and Transport what proportion of their Departments' expenditure was spent on services for the elderly in the latest period for which figures are available. Replies are awaited.
Tuesday 21 February
"That this House expresses concern at the news that the number of pensioners dying from hypothermia has nearly doubled in five years, a period that has coincided with a succession of cold winters as well as drastic rises in energy bills by energy companies; notes that 1,876 patients were treated for hypothermia in 2010-11, up from 950 in 2006-07; further notes that this coincides with an increase in energy costs over the past five years, especially gas, which has increased in price by 40 per cent.; recognises that energy companies' price rises are leaving more and more pensioners in fuel poverty; and calls on the Government to take action to stop energy companies increasing prices to ensure that people are able to properly heat their homes and not be left with the very real threat of serious illness and even death."
Early Day Motion tabled by Greg Mulholland MP
During health oral questions Lorely Burt
MP asked what steps the Department of Health
is taking to improve the standard of dementia care in hospitals. The Minister of State for Health
, Paul Burstow
, replied that as many as four out of 10 people in hospital have dementia, and people with dementia stay longer in hospital. He added that Government knows that there is much room for improvement. That is why it has set a new national goal for hospitals actively to identify people with dementia.
Lorely Burt MP asked a follow up over the level of training and development on dementia care in hospitals. He asked what action the Minister is taking to better equip staff to be able to take care of dementia patients in future. In response Paul Burstow said that training is certainly one of the issues highlighted by the audit. The Government is taking a number of steps, including working with the Royal College of Nursing, which has developed an online dementia information resource; working with Skills for Care and Skills for Health to provide a series of training workshops for staff; working with Oxford Deanery to trial a new approach to dementia education and training for GPs; and funding another audit to make sure that Government keeps track of the improvements that it expects to see across the NHS.
Annette Brooke MP appreciated that the Government has allocated additional funding for social care, but asked what more will and can they do in the short term not only to address the current crisis in funding and ensure that funding is used creatively and efficiently locally, but to cater for those with lower-level needs through preventive measures and early intervention. Paul Burstow agreed about the need to invest in early intervention and prevention. In addition to the £7.2 billion that the Government will invest this Parliament, this January it announced an extra £120 million for the remainder of the year to support care services. Furthermore, the Government is funding, jointly with the Local Government Association, work to support councils in delivering improved productivity and sharing best practice to ensure that they deliver improvements to services, and not just cuts.
David Crausby MP asked what recent assessment the Minister has made of the quality of services for older people. In his reply Paul Burstow said that a number of independent audits, investigations and inspections have revealed long standing and unacceptable variations in the standard of care older people receive in the NHS and social care. The Government is determined to root out poor quality care wherever it is found. It has established the National Nursing and Care Quality Forum to work with patients, carers and professionals to spread best practice.
Wednesday 22 February
Shadow Energy Minister Caroline Flint
received a reply to her question to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
over how many applications for assistance under the Warm Homes Discount scheme
were (a) accepted and (b) rejected in 2011-12. Gregory Barker
MP said that the Warm Home Discount scheme requires participating energy suppliers to assist all of those pensioners identified to them by the Secretary of State as eligible for support as part of the Core Group as they receive pension credit guarantee credit only. This year the Government estimates that around 660,000 of the poorest pensioners will be helped in this way. Suppliers are also required to spend a set amount, £153 million this year, on providing assistance to a wider group of low income and vulnerable households beyond the Core Group. This year the Government estimates that around 2 million households will be assisted in total through the scheme. Ofgem will monitor suppliers' spending and ensure they comply with the requirements of the scheme.
On the same day Tracey Crouch MP received a reply to her question to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what representations she has received on the role of the welfare system in reform of social care. Maria Miller MP said that Work and Pensions Ministers have met with their counterparts in the Department of Health to discuss the important role that the social security system plays, and will continue to play in the care and support system for disabled adults and older people, a system which includes social care services provided by local authorities.
Friday 24 February
The figures for the delayed transfers from hospital were released for January 2012. There were 4,195 patients delayed on the last Thursday of the month, of which 2,482 were acute patients. This is an overall increase of around 550 patients from last month. There were 112,381 total delayed days during the month, of which 65,054 were acute. 64% of these were attributable to the NHS, 28% were attributable to Social care and 8% where both agencies were responsible.
The Lords is in recess but returns on 27 February.