MPs slam chaos over health

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The Independent Online
A DAMNING report by an influential committee of MPs will this week expose serious gaps in health and social services provision which are exacerbating the winter flu crisis and threatening the lives of elderly and vulnerable people, write Marie Woolf and Sophie Goodchild.

On Wednesday, the health select committee will publish an inquiry into social services and health provision around the country. It will warn of serious gaps and lack of coordination which is threatening lives.

The report, which will catalogue a sorry spectacle of "passing the buck" between social services and health departments, says vulnerable and ill people are being put at risk by incompetence, lack of communication and stretched resources.

Later this month Health Secretary Frank Dobson will face tough questioning from MPs about the flu crisis and why patients are being left on trolleys in corridors when he faces the committee. "Health and social services have completely different cultures," said one MP on the committee. "We have seen people missing out completely because the two departments are not working together and signs of serious duplication. We are also seeing people pay for care which could be given free."

t The Independent on Sunday has found that sales of cold and cough remedies have more than doubled this month compared with last year. High- street chemists have reported an increase in sales of over-the-counter drugs of up to 125 per cent.

Reports, page 5