The Liberal Democrat manifesto says this:
We will Integrate health and social care to create a seamless service, ending bureaucratic barriers and saving money to allow people to stay in their homes for longer rather than going into hospital or longterm residential care.Cue applause from yours truly.
Has the Health and Social Care Bill done this? No, not at all. It was never the intention of the bill. (The intention of the Bill has always been to create a healthcare market.) The House of Commons Library produced a research paper that accompanied the Bill (RP11-01) and in the summary it says:
Although the Bill deals primarily with health services, its title refers to social care because a number of measures would apply to bodies with joint functions and responsibilities; the Government intends to introduce legislation on social care reform later in the Parliament.This says that the Bill is not about social care because there will be a social care bill later in the Parliament. It is essentially saying that the only place that social care has in the Bill is in the title.
We hear that the great achievement of Paul Burstow, the Lib Dem Minister of State, was to get integration of social care with health into the Bill. Yet he has failed abysmally to do this.
It reminds me of the Spitting Image sketch where there was a discussion between David Steel, the leader of the Liberal Party, and David Owen, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, over the name of the party once they had merged. (From memory, anyone have a link online to the sketch?):
David Steel: what shall we call our new party?
David Owen: well, I thought we would take something from your party name, and something from our party name
David Steel: oh like the "Social Liberal Party", the Social from your party's name and Liberal from our party's name?
David Owen: Yes, something like that. But I thought that we would take the "Social Democrat" from our party's name.
David Steel: and from our party's name?
David Owen: I thought we would take "Party"
This sums up exactly how much influence the the Lib Dems have had in getting integration of social care in the Health and Social Care Bill: they merely got it in the Bill's name.