Almost £3bn of the Government’s £5bn Covid-19 funding will go towards freeing up at least 15,000 English hospital beds by the end of next week, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
It comes after the Local Government Association called for targets on delayed transfers of care, which reached record levels last month, to be relaxed amid the coronavirus crisis.
All health and care systems and providers have now been told to change their arrangements and provision of community support to ‘enable the discharge of all patients as soon as they are clinically safe to do so’.
The funding will cover the follow-on care costs for adults in social care or people in need of additional support once they have left hospital.
Some £1.6bn of the funding will go to local authorities to respond to coronavirus pressures across all the services they deliver, including stepping up support for the adult social care workforce and homeless people.
The remaining £1.3bn will be used to enhance the NHS discharge process so patients who no longer need urgent treatment can return home.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘This funding will help the NHS and social care services in our communities rise to this once-in-a-generation challenge by allowing the NHS to do what it needs to and help move people out of hospital as soon as possible to get them back home with the right support.’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak added: ‘Our £5bn Budget response fund is now being used to free up more beds in hospitals and ensure some of our most vulnerable people are getting the care they need.’
Chairman of the County Councils' Network, Cllr David Williams, said: 'While today’s funding announcement is huge, we are at the start of what could be a very long and painful few months.
'Councils will undoubtedly put this money to good use, but further funding may be needed in the not too distant future.'