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Any extra investment in social care must be beneficial across care and health

A head of the Budget tomorrow, NHS Providers, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine are calling on the government to provide additional funding for social care:

“The NHS and social care are inextricably intertwined. Current NHS performance is being significantly affected by the record number of social care related delayed Transfers of Care – 723,000 bed days lost in 2016, equivalent to the capacity of three and a half district general hospitals. The number rose by more than 40% between December 2015 and December 2016, causing anxiety and distress for thousands of patients who are not receiving the care they need in the right setting.

“We strongly welcome the early media indications that the Government is intending to allocate extra money to social care for 2017/18. It now has a crucial choice either to allocate the money in a way that will benefit the NHS, or not. The decision will set a long term direction. It is particularly important that extra investment can be beneficial across social care and health.

“We  urge the Chancellor to ensure that any extra funding for social care in 2017/18, and the way it is allocated and distributed, pass three crucial tests:

  • Any extra money must be clearly and irrevocably committed to extra social care services as opposed to any other local government service;
  • Any extra money must not be used to substitute for existing planned local authority spending on social care;
  • Any extra money must be used to benefit the patients being cared for by the NHS.

“Any solution to benefit NHS patients should, ideally, include the following features:

  • Must be clear, simple and not capable of being manipulated;
  • Local authorities should be incentivised to support NHS patients i.e. They would receive more funding if they support the NHS and less if they don’t;
  • Agreement of the proposed approach between local authorities and local NHS systems;
  • Some form of check or assurance that local authorities are developing arrangements that will support NHS patients, with some element of the funding dependent on this assurance; and
  • If extra money is coming into social care, it should either be spent on local authority packages of care or, if this doesn’t happen, on the alternative – the costs of keeping patients in hospital.

“The Government will be considering how much extra funding might be allocated to social care for 2017/18. We note the emerging consensus across the social care community – the Local Government Association, the DCLG Select Committee and the Health Foundation – that preservation of existing levels of social service requires minimum extra funding of between £1.5 and £2 billion in 2017/18.”

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