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Carers to miss out on more NHS money

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Carers are set to miss out again on NHS money earmarked for them, a new report has found.

The Government committed £100m in NHS funding to provide support for carers in 2010/11, but research by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care has found that only 26% of the cash will be spent to increase support for carers.

The charities fear that the improvement to carers' lives pledged in the Carers' Strategy will not happen and highlight how funding for other strategies to improve dementia care, end of life care, and children's health also seem to have disappeared into NHS budgets.

Carole Cochrane, Chief Executive of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers said:

"This report confirms our fears that carers will yet again miss out unless the Government takes action.

"We need the Minister to work with PCTs now or we face the prospect of £100m going missing as happened with the £50m given in 2009.

"With every passing day, PCTs will be setting budgets and once these are set they are very difficult to change.

"There are carers suffering breakdowns because they are not getting enough support. They cannot and will not wait another year for action."

Dame Philippa Russell, Chair of the Standing Commission on Carers, added:

"One of the key issues here is the importance of genuine partnership working, with the NHS and local authorities working proactively together in the interests of both carers and their families.

"Short breaks and respite care are a high priority across the carers' sector and crucial to their health and wellbeing. We must ensure that carers and their families, as well as those they care for, receive the high quality support than enables both to enjoy fulfilling lives.

"Carers are vital to the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable citizens and to
the economic wellbeing of society as a whole. But we cannot support them effectively unless we acknowledge the need for strong partnerships and shared accountability between health and social care."

The report shows that the Government must act immediately as Primary Care Trusts fail to prioritise carers in their budget planning.

And despite £100m new money being given to Primary Care Trusts, approximately one-quarter plan to reduce spending on carers' services.

Last week, at the Building Society to Care roundtable discussion hosted by HRH The Princess Royal, Care Services Minister Phil Hope announced that he would "personally hold Primary Care Trusts to account" if they do not spend the money earmarked by Government on carers.

A number of charities have come out in support of The Trust's report, including Counsel & Care, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Help the Hospices, the MS Society, the Parkinson's Disease Society, Rethink, and VODG, an umbrella group whose membership comprises of 42 national charities.

Read the report, Tough Breaks for Carers, in full

Read more about Mr Hope's pledge to hold PCTs to account