Secretary of state for health,. Alan Milburn, has announced the launch of an independent watchdog to safeguard standards in long term care (LTC).
The establishment of the body, named the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC), is a reaction to the recommendations of last year’s Royal Commission into LTC.
During the implementation, the government will consider how the financial services industry can best design LTC insurance products as well as developing other financial products to appeal to a broader audience.
The NCSC will have the authority to investigate and report on complaints, as well as ensuring customers have accurate and current information.
In addition, the body will report each year on service performance against standards, advise service providers on meeting them and run helplines to guide the public towards registered providers.
“Overall the NCSC will be a powerful new body which will, I believe, make a major contribution to driving up standards of care and to giving people the information they need to make choices about their LTC needs,” said Milburn. “I hope to see it up and running by spring 2000.”
Milburn explained that the government would examine the various practical issues around the financing of LTC.
These include the consideration of the provision of free nursing care and the implications of changes to certain social security benefits.
“Where appropriate we intend to publish short consultation papers on these issues,” said Milburn. “The lead government department in each case will be involving key organisations including users and carers as well as independent sector care providers.
This detailed work will help inform the government’s final decision on the future funding of LTC following the conclusion on next year’s spending review.”