Lewis argues for prevention in social care

7 Dec 06
The move towards preventative care services is 'non-negotiable', social care minister Ivan Lewis has told Public Finance

08 December 2006

The move towards preventative care services is 'non-negotiable', social care minister Ivan Lewis has told Public Finance.

Lewis insisted that services that focus on prevention, independence and personalisation remained the 'direction of travel' for adult social care. However, the sector still lacked the hard evidence to convince Treasury economists as they consider next year's Comprehensive Spending Review.

'We don't have as much evidence as we need… about how early prevention really can not only make a difference to people's quality of life, but also make more financial sense than the current system, where we are spending a disproportionate amount at the acute end,' Lewis said.

The minister was talking to PF ahead of his December 7 announcement of the ten local authorities selected to receive a share of £18.5m as part of the second phase of the Partnerships for Older People pilot project.

The pilots, which will run from May 2007 to April 2008, involve joint working between local authorities and the NHS to provide targeted services aimed at reducing hospital admissions and promoting independence.

The pilots will form part of the evidence base required to establish an economic case for a shift to prevention. But the full results will not be available until after the end of 2008.

Professional bodies such as the Association of Directors of Social Services have warned that the assumption that preventative services will lead to medium-term savings is misplaced, as better targeted and more accessible services can mean that people previously not in the system begin to use it.

Asked if the government would remain committed to a preventative health and social care service even if the evidence showed that it would not save money, Lewis told PF: 'This is a social justice agenda'.

He said that savings might not be cashable but rather about achieving better value in terms of better care and quality for users.

He added that although he continued to argue for more money, 'it's also about making better use of existing resources. At the moment, we're spending vast amounts of public money but not always securing the results we want to achieve.'


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