Social care funding crisis impacting on NHS patients now

Published on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 10:33
Posted by Scott Buckler

The NHS Confederation said it welcomed the Government's commitment improving social care for older people but issued a strong warning about the urgency of a sustainable funding settlement

Mike Farrar, the organisation's chief executive, made his comments alongside the findings of a survey of NHS leaders which highlights the impact cuts to social care is having on the NHS (see below).

Mr Farrar said:

"Our health and social care services face exceptional challenges as our population gets older. People are living longer but, as a result, may require more help and support. We welcome the Government's commitment to tackling this issue. The proposals expected in the white paper - particularly the emphasis on integration, personalisation and prevention - will go some way to prevent people falling through the gaps in the system.

"However, no part of the health and social care system is insulated from what happens in another. We know that our colleagues in social care are struggling against the odds.

"All of us find it unacceptable that people should arrive at A&E because they are unable to access the care and support they need. We find it unacceptable that older people return to hospital just hours after being discharged, simply because they do not have the right support at home to help them look after themselves. Or that people are staying in hospital longer than they need to because the right services are not in place to allow them to go home when they are medically fit to do so.

"We can no longer afford the political debates and academic discussions about social care funding. This is a real issue that is having a detrimental impact on people's lives, now, today. This is the time for action.

"Without reform, our health and social care systems are heading for collapse. For the sake of the NHS, local authorities, patients and carers, we all need a resolution now.  The public need open and honest information about what costs in the future will be covered by the state and what costs will be covered by individuals."

Mr Farrar highlighted the latest results of an NHS Confederation survey of NHS chief executives and chairs which outlines the pressures faced by their trusts over the past year.

The results found that 66 per cent of NHS leaders said that funding shortfalls in local authority spending had impacted on their services over the past 12 months - a further 18 per cent said they may have done.

Of those who felt there had been an impact from the funding shortfalls:

  • 92 per cent of respondents said there were more delayed discharges from hospital;
  • 87 per cent said there was greater demand for community services;
  • 76 per cent pointed to more demand for mental health services;57 per cent said there were more acute admissions to hospital; 
  • 55 per cent said there were more A&E attendances;50 per cent said there were more emergency re-admissions.

In the same survey, healthcare leaders were clear that demands on the NHS will increase over the next decade. The commonly cited challenges for them over the next decade were:

care of the elderly (42 per cent) pressure on finances (42 per cent).

Looking at the changes necessary for the NHS to respond to financial pressure and improve the quality of services, healthcare leaders were clear about what needs to happen:

77 per cent said the integration of care was necessary 63 per cent said the expansion of community-based care was necessary.

In response to this, Mike Farrar said: "Neither of these will be achievable if we don't mend a broken social care system."

Source: ©NHS Confederations

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