Published: 30/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5962 Page 9

A King's Fund inquiry has found that social care services for older people in London are failing, with effective joint services by health and social services partners still 'the exception, rather than the rule'.

The year-long investigation found major shortcomings in London's care services, including restricted access and choice, and hardship caused by inadequate funding and controversy about who pays for long-term care.

The Business of Caring concludes that without urgent action and extra investment the prospects of improvements for the next generation of older people are 'bleak'.

Close working between local authorities and their NHS partners has 'dramatically reduced' the number of delayed discharges from hospital, the report concedes, but there is now 'widespread concern' that people are being discharged too quickly into under-developed intermediate care services.

NHS Alliance chair Dr Michael Dixon rejected the report's recommendation that primary care trusts, local authorities and the Association of London should jointly develop capital investment plans on a pan-London basis to ensure new care homes are built where needed.

He argued that health and social services should instead be encouraging private investors to set up the right facilities.

www. kingsfund. org. uk/publications