GPs to buy social care for patients? (UK)

Care and Health reports Secretary of State for Health Patricia Hewitt as revealing that commissioning rules will be changed to enable doctors to prescribe social care support such as home helps [!] and respite breaks for carers.

Not quite sure the source for the C&H report – see * below – but it appears to reference the (unnamed) conference speech mentioned in the DH press release on the launch of its Commissioning Framework for Health and Well-being published yesterday.

If it happens, this could be good news for telecare providers, especially those with health-oriented offerings. Paragraph 7.5 and subsequent paragraphs of the report are the relevant ones, although my reading is less radical than Ms Hewitt’s apparent spin – it is ‘encourages’ GPs through Practice-Based Commissioning (PCB) to be more inventive in the use of NHS funds. However, this has to be in the context of the legal constraints and after making a ‘business case’ to justify their intentions to the local Primary Care Trust (PCT). My guess is that this sets barriers too high for most GPs to bother with. It also ignores equality issues concerning bypassing Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) rules around social care provision for some people.

Care and Health story.

DH press release.

DH site for downloading the Commissioning Framework document.

* UPDATE 9 March
It appears that the original story was sourced from a Guardian conference on integrated health, social care and housing services. Read the original Guardian article.