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Bigger share of funding settlement must go to social care to help solve ‘hospital beds crisis’, says NHS leader

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A senior figure in the NHS is calling for a bigger share of the new health and social care levy to go to care providers, to help free up capacity in hospitals across England.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told the Guardian that allocating more funding to the care sector to help increase wages and fill staffing vacancies would have a “much greater impact” on reducing pressures on the NHS.

He said the NHS beds crisis is now so serious that as many as one in five beds in some hospitals in England are occupied by patients who are medically fit to be discharged.

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In most cases that is because there is no care package available to enable them to hospital.

Taylor said: “We welcomed the government’s recent extra investment in the NHS, but we cannot immediately buy our way out of this potential crisis due to the 90,000-plus vacancies in the NHS.

“It would be better to allocate more immediate funding, from the recent funding settlement, to social care services, as boosting the numbers of care staff will have much greater impact on reducing pressures on hospitals and other parts of the NHS.”

The Prime Minister announced in September that national insurance contributions would increase by 1.25% to £36 billion for health and social care over the next three years.

Of this, £30.6 billion will go to the NHS to help tackle waiting lists. This means that £5.4 billion will be available for social care and just a proportion will be used to fund home care.

Dr Jane Townson, CEO of the Homecare Association, explained in a blog post at the time of the health and social care levy announcement that with only £5.4bn being made available for social care for three years, eligibility criteria for state-funded care are likely to remain high.

“It makes no sense to neglect older and disabled people in the community, wait until a crisis point is reached, then transport them to acute hospitals, where they frequently lose function, deteriorate rapidly, and require even more long-term care. But this, it appears, continues to be the government’s strategy,” she said.

Tags : Fundinghealth and social care levyreforms
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke