Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, believes that an additional £1.5 billion for the NHS will appear in the Autumn Statement next week, according to an article in The Guardian. This pledge comes a month after the chief of the NHS called for an extra £8 billion from the new government over the next five years, and is an indication that the government is moving in the right direction toward addressing and fixing the challenges faced by the NHS and the wider health and social care sector.
The NHS has experienced increased pressure with an influx of 1.3 million more people going to A&E than in the last Labour government and is therefore something that needs to be addressed now. Clegg also noted that the impact of an ageing population, which is expected to increase by 15 million in 20 years’ time, is another major reason for additional money needing to be allocated.
One main issue facing the NHS as a result of the increase in the elderly population is bed blocking in UK hospitals. A recent Telegraph article talks about how hospitals are being forced to evict elderly patients who are well enough to go home but remain in hospital. This is because loved ones are ill-equipped or unable to look after their elderly family members who require some level of support but have been hit by Council cuts to providing care.
While the additional money being sent toward the NHS will hopefully help with this problem to an extent, by allowing hospitals to afford more beds and nurses to look after patients, additional solutions need to be considered.
Previous Prestige blogs have addressed the difficulties facing family members who cannot care for their loved ones due to job requirements or other family care commitments. Greater support from the community and introduction of community care is one possible solution. This would provide support to families and also counter the loneliness that many elderly people feel when living along. Alternatively, home care can offer welcome relief to families as this can ensure that their elderly parents or grandparents are being properly looked after and cared for.
Such a solution is often a cheaper option to care homes, and includes multiple benefits, highlighted in other Prestige blogs, such as prolonged independence. We therefore welcome any additional funding for the NHS but urge the government to consider a holistic approach to social care so that individual needs are considered and the best solution for that person adopted.