Health Minister Tells Council and PCT To ‘Sort Out’ Social Care Row

A health minister has ordered council bosses to talk with the borough’s Primary Care Trust (PCT) chiefs to sort out an £8 million social care row. Lord Philip Hunt dismissed any legal challenge to the transfer of social care costs from Brent PCT to Brent Council as ‘highly unlikely’ in response to a concerned letter from MP Dawn Butler.

Within weeks, the summit will put town hall chiefs around the table with PCT bosses and government ministers who will want to discuss the council’s responsibilities.

Brent South MP, Ms Butler said: “The council’s Lib Dems have effectively left some of Brent’s most vulnerable residents to fend for themselves. They have just adopted a completely unconstructive attitude.” The transfer of NHS costs to councils, dubbed as ‘cost shunting,’ for things like nursing care in the home has been the subject of fierce national debate.

The MP’s letter to the Government asked them to urgently look at the social care situation in the borough. In his reply the minister said in March NHS London agreed to defer payment of more than half of Brent Primary Care Trusts’ historic debt, following pressure from the MP.

A new acting PCT chief executive, Ian Wilson, was also appointed last month. Lord Hunt said: “Brent Council has hinted that it may seek legal action against the transfer of social care costs from Brent PCT to Brent Council.

“It is, of course, highly unlikely that the council would seriously consider legal action and it can only be assumed that this posturing is merely designed to further political arguments against the local PCT. While this situation remains, Brent PCT has to ensure that NHS staff review patients’ cases every three months which means they cannot guarantee that the patients’ care packages are being efficiently looked over.”

Lord Hunt added: “A meeting between the council, the PCT Trust, myself and Phil Woolas, minister for local government and community, has been arranged to discuss this matter.”

But Cllr Paul Lorber, council leader, said the MP should be ashamed of the Labour Government’s policy of over £50m of NHS cuts in Brent. He said: “As a result of the Labour cuts the £1m Willesden Hospital has been virtually mothballed with the closure of 24 special rehabilitation beds depriving vulnerable Brent residents of an essential service.

He added: “The cuts in physiotherapy and other services for youngsters in our Special Schools is hurting hundreds of youngsters at Hay Lane and other schools. The Labour cuts are also having a devastating impact on mental health and other services provided to Brent residents by the voluntary sector.