The Local Government Association said “piecemeal” funding is “no substitute for a strategic approach to the pressure on hospital beds”.
The government is to spend up to £200 million buying thousands of extra beds in care homes and other settings to help discharge more hospital patients and reduce the strain on hospitals, and Health Secretary Steve Barclay has also announced £50 million additional capital funding for hospitals on Monday as the Government comes under intense pressure to alleviate the crisis in the NHS.
Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association Community Wellbeing Board said:
“A decade of consistent underfunding of social care and underinvestment in community health services has led us into this crisis and it will not be fixed through tacked-on funding that fails to address any of the root causes of this situation.
“Councils recognise the immediate issue of pressures on hospitals and the desire to expand capacity through use of care home beds. It is important that any beds purchased by the NHS must be clearly earmarked as short term recovery beds and have full wrap around support to support people to get home as quickly as possible The NHS should also agree the purchase of such beds and how the wrap around support will be provided with local councils so that there is a consistent approach to the local care market. It is vital that there is agreement about funding the ongoing support for people if the NHS funding of a place is time limited.
“This piecemeal allocation of funding is no substitute for a strategic approach to the pressure on hospital beds which requires a much broader range of actions to prevent admission, streamline discharge for those that do not need social care and focus on capacity to support recovery.
“It is disappointing that so much of the current narrative on social care implies it exists solely to ease pressure on the NHS and is failing to do its job. Many people rely on social care to support them to live independent and fulfilling lives and the continual focus on supporting the NHS, important though it is, places these vital services at risk. Until the Government presents social care as an essential service in its own right – valued equally highly as the NHS – we will continue to lurch from one sticking plaster to the next.
“We have consistently said that £13 billion is needed for social care so that its many pressures can be addressed and councils can deliver on all of their statutory duties. This is the level of investment needed to ensure people of all ages can live an equal life and reduce the need for hospital treatment in the first place.”