Council backs massive adult care changes amid £32m of cuts

4:20pm Thursday 12th June 2014

By Tom Edwards

PLANS to axe £32 million from adult care spending in Worcestershire has been backed by the county council - paving the way for 'self assessments' to be launched.

The Conservative cabinet has agreed to proceed with a five-year blueprint for "radical and rapid change" to its healthcare services.

The plan includes:

- A new online "self-directed assessment" where the public can sit at a computer and check if they are eligible for adult social care

- The creation of a 'market place' where people can choose from a raft of outside providers to 'buy' their own health care using a personal budget from taxpayers

- A massive campaign to recruit volunteers to help keep vulnerable people out of care

- Closer integration with South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (SWCCG) and other CCGs to provide services jointly and pool the costs

By far the biggest single change to the public will be the self assessments, which are traditionally done by council staff.

Under the new digital system, anyone will be able to log on and check if they or a relative are eligible for a care package.

The adult care cuts are part of plans to save around £100 million by 2018 to balance the books, including 1,500 job losses.

The council says people considered "most vulnerable" will still be seen face-to-face, but they believe thousands of appointments every year could be done online.

A crucial part of the volunteers role will be providing support to people trying to do the self assessment - at facilities like libraries if they have no web access at home.

The council's cabinet has agreed to back the blueprint, which is still in its early stages, and allow it to develop further.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, has fired an ominous warning by saying it has to succeed.

"This is a key strand of the council's work, it's an extremely difficult and complex thing and we must keep driving forward," he said.

"The sums of money involved in this are so large to this council, we have to succeed."

Councillor Marcus Hart, cabinet member for health, said: "We need to make sure we integrate services and reduce duplication while making sure, crucially, the patient is put first."

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