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Social care must be ‘given parity’ with NHS to avoid delayed transfers of care

A sustainable social care system is key to a sustainable NHS, the LGA has argued in response to NHS England’s latest delayed transfers of care (DToC) figures – which revealed a total of 152,300 delayed days in January.

Of all of the delays that month, 33% were attributable to social care, although this was down slightly from 35% last January.

The main reason for social care delays was patients waiting for care packages in their own home, which accounted for 16,800 delayed days.

Delays for this reason had been steadily increasing between February 2015 and peaked in December 2016, but since March 2017 they have been gradually declining – although January 2018’s figure is an increase on the previous month.

Cllr Linda Thomas, vice chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “These figures show that, despite an overall increase in the total number of delayed days, councils have kept a lid on this rise, battling against the odds during a challenging winter period when demand pressures – which have included a flu outbreak – typically rise due to worsening health conditions.

“The number of delayed days due to social care has only risen marginally, by 1%. Since July 2017, delays due to social care have fallen by 27%.

“This reflects the continuous hard work by councils to get people out of hospital in a timely and safe manner so they can return to live in the comfort of their own homes and communities close to their loved ones and families.”

Thomas argued that to help reduce DToCs and pressures on the NHS, social care needs to be given parity with the health service.

“A sustainable NHS cannot be achieved without a sustainable social care system so investment in social care is a sound economic choice for the NHS, society and the country,” she added. “Councils will continue to work closely with their NHS partners locally but government needs to fully fund our social care system.”

The LGA official warned that whilst the extra £2bn announced last year and the additional £150m for adult social care announced in the final Local Government Finance Settlement are helpful, they will not be enough to address the immediate pressures of the £2.3bn funding gap faced by social care by 2020.

Top image: sturti

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