Reports of the Government’s latest announcement on the ongoing Carter Review on Operational Productivity in NHS Providers have sparked debate in the Care Sector. According to reports, Lord Carter suggests hospitals should build their own care homes to look after elderly patients after they have been treated to make it easier to discharge patients and prevent ‘bed-blocking’.
The National Care Association points out that it has, at length, reminded the government that patients requiring care homes are needlessly being kept in hospitals at greater expense while the care homes sector remains underfunded.
National Care Association Chairman Nadra Ahmed OBE, has responded to the Review by identifying continuing disparities in the current approach: ‘Long-stay geriatric wards can cost as much as £2,000 a week per patient, yet local authorities are unwilling to pay the private care sector somewhat less than a third of that sum for a similar standard of care due to rigid adherence by councils to chronic underfunding. Words are not deeds,’ Mrs Ahmed reminds Lord Carter. ‘While the Review’s recommendations are laudable, getting an “ideal” put into practice is quite another matter, given the reluctance by Local Authorities to fulfil the Government’s Manifesto Pledge that vowed “to give councils more flexibility to support local services.”
‘The standardisation of practices that Lord Carter proposes for the NHS should, in our view, extend to local authority funding of social care provided by the care homes sector. There remains a critical shortfall in average council funding of about 8% for a typical care home placement. So until our sector is granted realistic funding there exists a strong probability that the independent social care market will continue to shrink, a UK support service which remains essential to local government and NHS care provision.’