§ Mr. Haselhurst
To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she will be issuing guidance clarifying218W NHS responsibilities for meeting needs for continuing health care; and whether she will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
I shall issue tomorrow to health authorities, local authorities and other interested parties guidance on national health service responsibilities for meeting needs for continuing health care. This follows careful consideration of the responses we have received on the draft guidance on this subject which was issued for consultation last summer. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will be issuing parallel guidance in Wales.
The guidance will make clear that arranging and funding a full range of services to meet needs for continuing health care is a fundamental part of the responsibilities of the NHS. In discharging those responsibilities the NHS needs to work closely with its partners in local authorities, building on the improved collaboration which has resulted from the introduction of the community care reforms.
The guidance will set out a national framework of conditions which must be addressed in the local policies and eligibility for continuing health care which all health authorities will be required to develop and publish. We will also make clear the action which health authorities, working with local authorities, general practitioners and others, must take to implement the guidance, including specific action to address where significant gaps in services are identified.
I shall be placing copies of the guidance in the Library.