Counties call for funding reform as delayed transfers cost NHS £300m
The areas suffering from the greatest social care cuts are home to the greatest numbers of elderly people, adding to delayed transfer rates.
The County Councils Network (CCN) reported that its members suffered 22% reductions in adult social care funding in 2013-16.
This is despite the fact that counties are home to 55% of the elderly population, and have the fastest growing elderly population at 2% a year, meaning that patients lacked the support to help reduce the need for them to go to hospital and ensure they were cared for when they were ready to leave.
In county areas there was a 28.7% increase in delayed transfers for hospital patients between 2011 and 2015 and in 2015-16, there were 998,109 delayed days at an estimated cost to the NHS of £302m.
Colin Noble, CCN's spokesman for health and social care, said: “No-one should be left in a hospital bed if they are medically able to be treated in their own home, yet the sad reality is that this situation is going to become more commonplace unless a system of sustainable funding is found.”
The CCN said that the £3.5bn the government has promised to tackle the issue, including the Better Care Fund and the social care precept, will be offset by the National Living Wage and population growth.
The King’s Fund predicts that there will be a £2.8bn-£3.5bn social care deficit by the end of this Parliament, of which £800m will be due to the National Living Wage.
Noble repeated calls for the government to bring forward £700m of Better Care Fund money from the end of the decade to this year.
However, he added: “But even if the BCF is to be frontloaded, the way it funds councils needs to be re-examined so that funding follows need. Despite county areas being home to the largest elderly population, and delayed transfers of care rising dramatically, urban areas benefit far more from the fund.
“And a holistic approach is required if councils and the NHS are to find locally-led solutions to ensure that people receive quality, safe care in the most appropriate setting.”
CCN members received, on average, £79.58 social care funding for each head in 2015-16, lower than any other authority type. London authorities received 72% more than the counties and Met authorities received 39% more.
PSE’s sister title, National Health Executive, reported yesterday that there were 167,677 days of delayed transfers of care across the country in April 2016, the highest number since records began in April 2010.
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