Social care cash to go on health, LGA chair warns

Blog post 1 August 2017

The Independent announced funding intended to improve social care is being used to bail out the NHS.

We all knew this was on the cards, but seeing it in print brings home the stark reality of the financial problems the sector faces.

And we learn too from the online article “divisions between local government and the health service have widened as councils raise the prospect of a revolt over ‘completely unacceptable’ threats to withhold money unless they meet targets for reducing NHS bed-blocking.” 

In the March Budget an extra £2bn was handed out to social care and was meant to be spent through the Intergration and Better Care Fund (IBCF).

It has now emerged that “most of it will go towards delayed discharges in the NHS.” says the daily newspaper.

Let me quote from the article: “Izzi Seccombe, chairman of community wellbeing at the Local Government Association, told The Independent the NHS was effectively ‘signing off’ the funding, and urged that social care workers should be treated as ‘equals’ to their health colleagues.

“She said: ‘It was very disappointing to hear that the money is only addressing the actual managing out of hospital care, not all the stuff we’re trying to do to prevent people going in, such as supporting carers and helping people in independence to keep people in their own community for as long as possible’."

Seccombe refers to the financial move on delayed discharges as “a bit of a land grab,” explaining that the NHS was to set targets for local authorities and if they cannot achieve that there’s going to be a penalty.

And this, according to the article is “is likely to be in the areas that are most financially challenged." Guess that must be my area.

Clearly social care is the sad Cinderella once again as Seccombe urges we need to be treated as equal partners.

Effectively social care monies are being spirited away by health because it has a problem. Where is the logic, I ask. Cutting funding for social care services that aim to prevent people from going into hospital will surely lead to more pressures on the NHS.

The demands for community care are at an all-time high as people are supported in their own homes with the express purpose of keeping them out of hospital.

If they are not properly supported in their own homes they are less likely to be fit and well and more likely to put pressure on A&E, bringing on more problems, Seccombe warns.

Discharge financial penalties . . . creative accounting with social care cash . . . what next?

It appears The Independent is the only newspaper carrying this story. Why? At the risk of sounding paranoid (and perhaps a little like US President Donald Trump) it does sometimes appear there is a publishing industry agenda to keep the public in the dark over certain social care news breaks and this is one of them.