§ Mr. Paul Dean
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he intends to publish guidance on his policies and priorities for the health and personal social services.
§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
1 have today published "Care in Action"—a handbook of policies and priorities for the health and personal social services in England. Copies of the handbook are available in the Vote Office.
The Government's immediate concern on taking office was to streamline the administration of the National Health Service, along the lines recommended by the Royal Commission. This is now under way and the new district health authorities to be appointed during 1981 will, in most parts of England, assume responsibilty in April 1982.
It is, therefore, timely that the Government should set out for the new health authorities, for local government and for the voluntary movement, the policies and priorities which should guide them in their work.396W
The handbook is intended to be a practical document. It deals with national policies reflecting, for example, the emphasis we place on prevention and on the priority to be given to certain groups and services. It also emphasises that decisions affecting a particular locality, and the way to achieve them, are best made locally. This blend of national policy with local responsibility for decision-taking is the theme of the current reorganisation of the National Health Service, and it is carried forward in the handbook.
The priorities set out in the handbook in general follow those of sucessive Governments in recent years. As well as prevention, they include services for the elderly, the mentally handicapped, the mentally ill and the physically and sensorily handicapped; other priority services are those for maternity care, neonatal care, primary care, and services related to the care of young children at risk and to the care and treatment of juvenile offenders. We also emphasise the individual's responsibility for his own health; the importance of the family and of the whole network of support available within the community and through the voluntary services; and also the importance of a proper partnership with the private health sector.
We want to see close collaboration between health authorities and local government and with the voluntary sector.
Another theme in the handbook is the need to improve efficiency. Until the economy improves, we cannot afford to spend more than already planned. This makes it doubly important to secure the best value we can for the money spent.
The provision of health and personal social services at a time of economic difficulty presents a challenge to us all I hope that "Care in Action" will help us to meet that challenge.