NHS crises could increase without the protection of social care funding as thousands of vulnerable people risk missing out on vital services.
A recent article in Public Finance explains that local government leaders have called on Chancellor George Osborne to use next month’s Budget as a way to put social care funding on a ‘sustainable financial footing’. Specifically, the Chancellor is being urged to protect the funding in order for councils to better support the NHS. This winter has shown first-hand the problems that come with an underfunded social care system, which places added pressure on an already stretched NHS. The combined pressures of insufficient funding with growing demands highlights the urgent need for a long-term solution. According to homecare.co.uk, thousands of people are at risk of seeing loved ones deprived of access to care services that would allow them to remain independent. Instead, older or vulnerable people are being left in hospital beds due to a lack of support that would help them to otherwise live in their own homes, a trend frequently referred to as bed-blocking and covered by previous blogs. Currently, many elderly are not being supported with daily tasks such as washing, dressing or leaving the house. This leads them to rely on family and friends for assistance, often driving relationships to a ‘crisis point’. Without the funding protection, the social care system could push local services too far resulting in a much wider crisis of support. Health experts and council leaders warn that forcing councils to cut already underfunded social care while protecting and investing money in the NHS is a false economy, as this Care Appointments article argues. The 40 per cent cut in local government budgets is forcing councils to make impossible decisions on which services they provide. Clearly a cohesive and efficient solution is required to avoid the same pressures occurring year after year. As the population continues to age and encounters more health problems than ever before as a result, it is imperative that we adapt to provide social care providers with the funds and support they need to deliver high quality care. This in turn would reduce the burden on the NHS so both can function effectively.