Social care directors have warned delays to operations and hospital admissions will continue without a long-term sustainable funding solution for their sector.
As the NHS in England struggles to cope with mounting winter pressures, vice-president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Glen Garrod, warned pressure on hospitals would increase unless his sector was ‘adequately resourced’ by the Government.
Mr Garrod said: ‘While it’s crucial that effective hospital treatment is available, it’s just as important that people have access to primary and community health care to prevent them requiring hospital in the first place, and get them home from hospital as soon as possible, by making sure that people being cared for at home are provided with adequate support.
‘The only way to address this crisis is with a long-term, sustainable, funding solution, which we hope will emerge in the Government’s forthcoming green paper on adult social care.’
Council leaders said today that the winter health crisis should incentivise government to fully fund the social care system.
The Local Government Association (LGA) warned urgent, genuinely new funding was needed in the finance settlement to avoid an ‘all-year round NHS crisis’.
LGA Conservative chairman Lord Porter said: ‘Extra funding for social care can empower councils to prioritise prevention work which is key to reducing the pressures on the health service and keeping people out of hospital in the first place.
‘The announcement of a green paper next summer shows government recognises the need for long-term reform of social care, but immediate extra funding is needed now to address the immediate pressures older people and people with disabilities are facing.
‘The final local government finance settlement due in the next month is an opportunity to provide genuinely new money to address the £2.3bn social care funding gap to make sure people get the care and support they need in the right place and at the right time.
‘Immediate extra funding will help avoid a situation where people spend longer in hospital rather than in their own home and communities – or having their operations cancelled more regularly - as NHS pressures increase and councils are left increasingly powerless to help.’
Tens of thousands of planned operations could be delayed for at least a month as the NHS deals with the most urgent cases.
New figures have also revealed that delays in ambulances delivering patients to accident and emergency departments in England have reached their highest level of the winter so far, as those waiting more than an hour nearly doubled in a week.