Loneliness initiatives cutting emergency hospital admissions

Council leaders have stressed that extra funding will help councils build on the effective prevention work to tackle loneliness which has saved millions of pounds and cut emergency hospital stays.

The Local Government Association argues that national health policy needs to recognise the cost-effective benefits of the prevention work undertaken by councils, community and voluntary organisations to tackle the growing problem of loneliness which is a major public health concern.

According to the organisation, such prevention work has reduced emergency admissions to local hospitals by as much as 20 per cent and related costs to the public purse by £2 million in once council area alone. Therefore, the LGA is urging the government to provide more funding for councils to continue and expand this cost-effective work and alleviate some of the pressure on NHS and social care services.

Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Loneliness is a far from trivial issue – it can have a devastating effect on people’s physical and mental health, as well as placing an increasing burden on health and social care. For too many people, loneliness is their reality all year round. They are often less able to look after themselves, which can make existing health conditions worse, and are more likely to become reliant on public services sooner.

“The older population continues to rise and loneliness is also a burgeoning issue among the younger generation. This is leading to increasing demand on social care and health services, and greater costs to the public purse. Councils, working with communities and health partners, are spearheading successful initiatives which are reducing loneliness, improving the quality of people’s lives, and reducing avoidable hospital admissions and health and social care costs.

“But significant government funding reductions is hampering the ability of councils to continue or expand this key intervention and prevention work. To maximise cost effectiveness and improve health and wellbeing, we urge government to reverse reductions to councils’ public health budgets and plug the funding gap facing adult social care which is set to exceed more than £2 billion by 2020.”

The LGA press release contains some local authority case studies highlighting some of the successful schemes being run by English councils.

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