The Government should provide local authorities with the funds to invest in prevention measures to help ease the burden emergency admissions place on the NHS, council chiefs say.
A new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed emergency admissions have grown by 24% between 2007-08 and 2016-17 and cost the NHS £13.7bn in 2015-16.
Last year, according to the report, there were 5.8 million emergency admissions of which 24% were considered avoidable by NHS England.
The rise in emergency admissions of people aged 65 and over was 12% in the past four years.
The NAO warned the capacity in the community to prevent emergency admissions does not currently meet demand.
The Department of Health & Social Care spent £10bn on community health care as of October 2017 but, the report notes, there is no clear plan on how this could be better used to manage demand.
Responding to the NAO’s report, Cllr Linda Thomas, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, said councils were working closely with the NHS to ‘avoid unnecessary admissions’.
However, she warned, this was difficult due to the ‘historic’ underfunding of social care.
‘The adult social care system is under significant pressure and community based services are being reduced, which is impacting on inpatient services,’ Cllr Thomas explained.
‘This reduced Government funding means councils have had to spend less on key prevention work – £64m less in the past year.’
‘The Government needs to give urgent funding to councils to invest in prevention measures, which will help to reduce costs to the public purse,’ she continued.
‘Social care needs to be put on an equal footing with the NHS and government needs to address immediate pressures as part of the £2.3bn funding gap facing social care by 2020.
‘A whole-system approach to health and social care — which recognises that community based support, including adult social care, helps to prevent hospital admission — is needed to ensure that people are adequately supported through their patient journey.’