AMBULANCES and their patients are queuing outside hospitals because there is no social care to allow beds to be freed up, it was said today.
And angry care providers have called for urgent action to stop them from being a bottleneck in the healthcare route.
A report by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch says delays are being caused because hospitals are struggling to free up beds.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) said it had warned for decades that failing to reform and invest in social care would have consequences for other care.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said:
“This isn’t rocket science. If we have no care available we will have delayed discharges from hospitals and if we can’t free up beds then we will get ambulances queuing at the doors and patients suffering.
“The equation is simple – invest in proper reform and funding of social care. Increase the availability of homecare and of care and nursing home beds and you will free up hospital beds to look after those who urgently need them.
“Instead, the Government continues to insist that there is adequate care capacity in the system – well here is the evidence that that is just, plain wrong.”
The ICG is calling for social care’s share of the Health and Social Care Levy to be urgently fast-tracked to the frontline to help with staff recruitment, improving staff pay and social care delivery where it is needed.
“At the moment, the bulk of that £36bn fund is set to go to the NHS first – but we are calling for social care to get an equal share quickly” Mr Padgham added. “Otherwise, care provision will continue to suffer, providers will leave the sector, hospitals will remain choked and hundreds of thousands of people will be left without the care they need.”
The ICG wants to see:
• A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
• NHS care and social care merged and managed locally or nationally
• Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation
• Dementia treated and funded like other high priority illnesses
• A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
• Proper pay, conditions and career structure for carers
• Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT.