Pledge to close health and care gap

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Media captionElsie Sykes: "The care package changed my life"

Ministers are promising an end to the era of vulnerable people being passed around the health and care systems.

The pledge forms part of a shared commitment being set out by NHS and local government leaders to close the gap between the two systems by 2018.

A series of pioneer projects will be launched at the end of the summer.

These will explore new ways of pooling budgets, speeding up discharge from hospitals and streamlining assessments.

The commitment has been signed up to by the Department of Health, NHS England, the Local Government Association and the umbrella bodies for directors of child and adult social care.


Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: "People don't want health care or social care, they just want the best care.

"This is a vital step in creating a truly joined up system that puts people first.

"Unless we change the way we work, the NHS and care system is heading for a crisis."

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Media captionCare Minister Norman Lamb: "The whole thing is co-ordinated in the patient's interest... it's not rocket science"

Local Government Association chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said members would be working hard to play their part.

"Councils have a key role to play in integrating services to both improve the quality of care and support that people receive and help find new ways of addressing the long-standing concerns around the future funding of care services."

It comes as figures show elderly hospital patients are facing increasing delays for social care help.

The analysis of government figures by Age UK showed that hospital patients were waiting for more than 30 days on average for a care home place - 13% longer than three years ago.

Those needing social care packages at home are waiting 27 days on average - again 13% longer.

As well as being inconvenient for patients, the delays are costly for the NHS.

For example, a hospital bed costs £250 a day compared with just over £500 a week for a care home place.

Age UK released the figures to illustrate the growing disconnect between the health and social care systems.

Last week directors of social services warned their budgets were likely to be reduced again this year - on top of the two years of cuts already seen.

Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, said: "Waiting in hospital needlessly not only wastes NHS resources but it can also undermine an older person's recovery and be profoundly upsetting for them and their families as a result."

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