Local authorities are ‘struggling’ to meet their obligations to prevent, reduce or delay the need for care, the British Red Cross has warned.
A new report from the charity looking into the implementation of the Care Act 2014 found progress in developing prevention services and integrating health and social care was ‘too slow’.
The Care Act has placed a duty on councils in England to make sure preventative services are available locally. It also places a duty on local authorities to integrate with health services.
However, Prevention in Action found budget cuts meant councils were not investing as much as they should into preventing people from accessing acute health and care services.
A lack of sufficient funds was also flagged up as one of the reasons behind problems with integration.
It also reported there was ‘inconsistency’ between local authorities when it comes to defining the meaning of ‘prevention’, and that there were also varying interpretations of what is meant by full health and social care integration.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: ‘It is concerning that spending on preventative care has gone down at a point when local authorities should be scaling up.
‘The Red Cross is concerned that intentions to fully integrate health and social care might remain a mere aspiration too.
‘We don’t want to be in a position where, in a further two years, meaningful integration of health and social care services remains a distant ambition despite the Government’s 2020 target for implementation.
‘It appears that across England there is a willingness to implement change and there are some great examples of the transformation in action, but it is crucial that local decision makers are given the backing and resources they need if we are to see consistent and effective implementation in all parts of the country.'