Latest Public Sector News

07.09.15

'Chronic underfunding' of social care could drive out providers and worsen bed crisis

The “chronic underfunding” of social care by councils could drive 24% of care providers out of the market and worsen the bed shortage crisis by 40,000 places, according to the National Care Association.

It has pinpointed the “critical shortfall” in average state funding of about 8% for a typical care home placement as a “significant contributory factor in the likely exodus of care providers”, helping to create a “funding black hole” of £375m.

Nadra Ahmed OBE, the association’s chair, said: “The chronic underfunding of social care by local authorities is prompting the systematic collapse of the independent social care market, which could, in turn, mean thousands of frail older people will not be able to access the care and support they need at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

“This will create a pathway into the NHS, which the state can ill afford, resulting in hospital admissions for non-acute conditions.”

The association blamed the underfunding and the upcoming introduction of the living wage in April for “seriously eroding the viability of many care home businesses”.

As well as having an effect on the “bed-blocking crisis already in evidence”, the underfunded sector carries the potential to hold “serious repercussions for the wider NHS”.

The association is therefore calling for increased funding from local authorities “in recognition of the true cost of care” in order to avoid the “predicted market crash” of the social care sector, which could see several independent providers shut their doors.

Bed shortages have been a consistent problem in the state service, with thousands of mental health patients being forced to travel to find a placement and high occupancy rates triggering poor A&E performance.

The social care sector has also undergone a recent blow to its structure with a planned cap on elderly care costs being pushed back to 2020.

This means that councils can continue to deny coverage for people with assets above £23,250 and more people will have to finance their own care.

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