The King’s Fund’s latest quarterly monitoring report has found that cuts in local authority social care budgets are adversely affecting health services. This is according to nearly 9 out of 10 (88 per cent) of NHS trust finance directors and 8 out of 10 (80 per cent) of clinical commissioning group finance leads surveyed.
These findings are reinforced by NHS performance data analysed for the report. This shows that more than 5,000 patients experienced delays in being discharged from hospital at the end of August – the highest level at this time of year since 2007. Further analysis for the report reveals that nearly a third of these delays were caused by problems accessing social care services – an increase of 21 per cent in the past year.
The King’s Fund is calling on the government to use the forthcoming Spending Review to protect social care from further budget cuts and reinvest the £6 billion previously earmarked to implement the Dilnot reforms, which have been delayed until 2020.
George McNamara, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
“Our social care system is falling apart at the seams as cuts bite ever more deeply. It comes as little surprise that this is impacting the NHS as, when our public services fail to support older people properly in the community, hospitals pick up the pieces. Hospital winter pressures are now becoming everyday pressures and this is unsustainable, delivering poor value for money and unresponsive care. Failure to act will only plunge the NHS and social care system into further crisis.
“Just this week the Local Government Association announced that they have been asked to draw up savings plans worth as much as 40% of their budgets ahead of the Spending Review – which they say would deliver a £10.5 billion knock-out blow to cherished local services. This threatens the provision and delivery of vital adult social care services, which could face cuts of up to £3.05 billion – potentially leaving 330,000 older and disabled people being denied access to care.
“We would urge Government to re-think and use the Spending Review to call a halt to the cuts that are hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. If threadbare adult social care services are cut further many essential care and support services for people with dementia will be rationed out of existence.”