Responding to a National Audit Office report, published today, on sustainability and transformation in the NHS, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“This alarming report shows that despite receiving £1.8 billion in extra funding last year, the NHS is struggling to cope with the costs of increased demand and has not been able to make enough progress in the vital long-term transformation of services because it has had to spend most its extra money on current pressures.
“Prioritising funding for the NHS over social care will not help reduce pressures on hospitals. Instead of making costly short-term bailouts to treat the symptoms of pressures, money would be better invested in treating the causes of these pressures.
“Government needs to give urgent funding to councils to invest in prevention to reduce the need for people to be admitted to hospital in the first place, which will help to reduce costs to the public purse.
“It is clear that there cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable social care system. Social care needs to be put on an equal footing with the NHS and government needs to use the upcoming final Local Government Finance Settlement to address immediate pressures and the £2.3 billion funding gap facing social care by 2020.
“The NHS could learn a great deal from local government. While the NHS can operate a deficit budget, councils have a statutory duty to return a balanced budget each year and continue to do so. Councils are the most efficient part of the public sector, providing essential services people rely whilst balancing the books, despite significant funding pressures.
“This year’s winter health crisis and the way councils are successfully using extra social care funding from the Government this year to reduce delayed transfers of care – reducing delayed days by 20 per cent since July – should incentivise government to fully fund our social care system
“With the social care green paper months away, and subsequent legislation likely to take a long time before implementation, genuinely new money is urgently needed now to prevent social care breaching its tipping point.”