Social care funding needed to tackle NHS backlog

The Local Government Association and NHS Confederation are joining forces to call on the Chancellor to use the Spending Review to provide genuinely new money for social care.

Council and health leaders have warned that the backlog in the NHS caused by the pandemic will take even longer to clear if immediate national funding to tackle pressures facing social care now is not announced in Rishi Sunak’s Spending Review.

New money for social care will help prevent admissions and get more people out of hospital and safely into their homes and communities. However, current social care pressures make it harder to tackle the serious backlog of cases needing to be dealt with by the NHS due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, where beds are still occupied by people who are medically fit to be discharged but do not have care arrangements in place for their return.

The organisations say that the Spending Review must inject urgently-needed new national funding to address severe and mounting pressures that are resulting in growing unmet and under-met need, greater strain on the care workforce and unpaid carers and increased pressure on an already unstable provider market.

David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils have long warned about the impact of an underfunded social care system on the NHS. There cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable adult social care system. It is clear that our health and care system faces a hugely difficult winter ahead. Councils will continue to work hard with the local NHS amid unprecedented funding pressures to try and help people live independently and reduce demand on the health service.

“Immediate extra funding is needed in the Spending Review to help avoid a situation where people spend longer in hospital, rather than in their own home and communities – or having their operations cancelled more regularly - as NHS pressures become unsustainable this winter and councils are left increasingly powerless to help.”

Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: “Healthcare leaders know how closely linked health and social care services are, they are sister services so when one suffers so does the other. While they are grateful for the additional investment given to help tackle the elective care waiting list, they are aware that a well-funded and good quality social care sector is also vital to a healthy nation and a strong and well-performing NHS.

“New short-term funding which addresses the present crisis is urgently needed ahead of what will be a perilous winter, but we also need long term funding to radically improve services and improve the recruitment and retention of social care staff.”

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