Health professionals urge social care funding

Chancellor urged to invest in adult social care

Published on 26th October 2018

The government has been urged to deliver a long-term investment in adult social care and public health services and workforce by a coalition of royal colleges and health faculties.

In a letter addressed to the chancellor Philip Hammond, the coalition warns that unless he uses the autumn budget as an opportunity to build upon the NHS funding settlement, plans for truly integrated care will not be possible and consequent demand on NHS services will not be manageable.

"There is no excuse for delay," the 11 organisations said in the letter. "Once again we face a winter of high bed occupancy and low staff morale, which an injection of adult social care funding will significantly alleviate."

The coalition is formed of the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Nursing, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Public Health and Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare.

The letter states that their professions have worked hard to increase the number of people who live into old age, but that has brought challenges for which the country have not properly planned. They warn that 40% of people over the age of 65 have a long-term health condition, and these conditions must be well managed if older people are to enjoy their later years.

The Local Government Association estimates that adult social care services in England face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025 just to maintain existing standards of care.

"This gap needs to be plugged, and a long term funding solution identified, as a matter of urgency," said the letter, adding that if services caring for older and disabled people are not properly funded, both they and patients in primary and secondary care suffer. People who could and should be supported in the community will remain stranded in our waiting rooms and hospital. This not only leads to poorer outcomes for them, it significantly reduces the resources available to treat other patients.

The letter states that a healthier population is key to the long-term sustainability of all public services, including NHS and social care services. It highlights that there is strong evidence that prevention interventions are cost-effective, reduce health inequalities, and can deliver improvements in health and return on investment in the short, medium, and long-term.

"Every part of the system is linked, and we can no longer afford to plan and fund health and care services in isolation. A stronger strategy to make sure we live both long and healthy lives must start now," the letter concludes.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Adult social care is vital in its own right and we have been clear for some time that the service is at breaking point and in desperate need of genuinely new funding to secure its future.

“Despite significant funding pressures, councils have made great progress in reducing the number of people in hospital due to a lack of available social care. To help councils build on this work and reduce pressures on the NHS, it is essential adult social care is put on an equal footing with the health service. Without new funding we risk going backwards and undoing the great work that has been achieved to date. This will impact on people across the country.

 “The Chancellor should use the Budget to stabilise adult social care in the here and now, set out a long-term sustainable funding solution, and as a minimum reverse the false economy of the cuts to councils’ public health budgets.

“Social care, public health and other council services that support people’s wider wellbeing help people live longer, healthier and happier lives, but the reality is that many local authorities are having to make difficult decisions on these key services, including stopping them altogether, further compounding the pressures on GP surgeries and hospitals," he concluded.

The letter is available here

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