Call for urgent social care funding for winter ‘health emergency’

NHS Confederation warns that without better pay and investment, social care will impact emergency care as patients cannot be discharged from hospital

NHS Confederation warns that without better pay and investment, social care will impact emergency care as patients cannot be discharged from hospital

Call for urgent social care funding for nursing staff to help deal with winter pressures
Picture: iStock

NHS and council leaders are calling for urgent social care funding as providers face the ‘perfect storm’ of problems this winter, including a nursing shortage.

NHS Confederation warned that without better pay and investment, social care will face a ‘health emergency this winter,’ and will continue to impact on emergency care as patients cannot be discharged.

NHS ‘weeks away’ from most extreme winter pressures ever faced, warns confederation

Chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘We are weeks away from what many predict will be the most extreme winter pressures that the NHS has ever faced.

‘NHS leaders agree that extra investment in social care, particularly in social care pay to boost recruitment and retention in a system that has at least 165,000 vacancies, would be one of the best and most effective actions that the government could take to reduce pressure in the health service.

‘Failure to address the lack of capacity in social care is a big reason why we have seen ambulances queued up outside hospitals all summer.’

In July, analysis by social care network Skills for Care showed that around 1,600 registered nurses had left the social care workforce in the past year, a drop of 4.5%.

In the past decade, the number of nurses working in social care has decreased by more than one third (36%), with 18,000 fewer nurses than in 2013.

PM Liz Truss urged to honour additional social care funding pledge

Meanwhile, the County Council Network (CCN) has called on prime minister Liz Truss to honour her leadership contest pledge to match the Health and Social Care national insurance levy funding of £13 billion, as an emergency budget it set to be announced on Friday.

As part of her leadership campaign, Ms Truss vowed to abolish the levy – brought in under Boris Johnson’s government in a bid to source more money for the NHS – but keep additional funding for health and care services, including additional funding for social care.

The CCN said in a statement that ‘the new prime minister must now “follow through” with this commitment’ as ‘services face a perfect storm of staffing shortages, less availability of care beds and higher costs at a time when demand is increasing’.

A government spokesperson insisted funding was in place for the sector. They said:The health and social care secretary is focused on delivering for patients and has set out her four priorities of A, B, C, D – ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists.

‘We will continue to invest the same amount into health and care overall as was set out under the levy, and in the immediate term, we have made an extra £3.7 billion available to councils this year – including £1 billion to spend specifically on social care.’

Subsequently the government announced a £500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund to help people get out of hospital and receive the care packages they need. It also pledged funding of £15 million to help increase international recruitment of care workers.

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