McDermott Comment | NHS Reform Requires Fixing Social Care, Too

Overview


Sharon Lamb, health partner at law firm McDermott Will & Emery, said:

“Although social care reforms are only proposed to be published later this year, the White Paper did include some interesting provisions which gives the Secretary of State a much greater line of sight over social care spending particularly on adult social care. This likely follows concerns that some social care services are underfunded and that rates paid for adult social care do not properly cover staffing costs.

The Secretary of State has proposed a new right to collect data from social care providers to better understand “this aspect of the system”. This will include data on hours of care services provided, cost per person together with data on financial flows which will enable transparency on money flows to providers and their workforce. This transparency is accompanied by a new right of the Secretary of State to pay providers directly (bypassing local authorities) although this is likely to be in exceptional circumstances only.

At the moment, there are only limited mechanisms to ensure that the care market is functioning properly  through “Care Act duties”. But the White Paper points to increased accountability through a new “assurance framework” to examine the performance of local authorities – notably, the Care Quality Commission will have a new duty to assess whether a local authority is delivering their adult social care duties with a power of the Secretary of State to intervene if an authority is failing to meet these duties.”