More than 2.5m bed days will have been lost in the NHS due to a lack of social care since the last General Election, new analysis has concluded.
Age UK has calculated the cost to the NHS of what it terms as ‘our national failure to reform and refinance social care’ as £587m between the 2017 election and polling day on December 12
The charity has warned that delayed transfers of care, which averaged 2,750 each day over the period, typically affect older people.
It has called for the next Government to prioritise social care reform.
Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: 'It is appalling that 2.5m bed days will have been lost to the NHS between the last election and this one simply because there is not nearly enough social care available to allow older people to be safely discharged.
‘We cannot go on treating the public in this way and leaving the NHS in an intolerably difficult situation.
'That’s why it is imperative that, whichever party forms the next Government, it takes decisive action to rebuild our social care system and put it on an even financial keel.
'This ought to be its number one domestic policy priority.’
Chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said: ‘Our own analysis shows that thanks to the hard work of councils’ social care teams, the NHS has seen delayed transfers of care attributable to social care fall by more than half a million over the past two years.’