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NHS Confederation care figures questioned

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Questions have emerged over an NHS Confederation report that claims the cost of the “gap in long-term social care funding” is £2bn.

The figure was published in a report, called Papering over the cracks, published on Monday. The report warned that the NHS could not afford to “save an additional £2bn a year without potentially seriously affecting the care of patients”.

It said: “In the long term, it is not sustainable to expect the funding shortfall of £2bn for social care to come from the NHS.”

However, asked how the £2bn figure was reached, a spokeswoman for the NHS Confederation confirmed it had used the number because this was the estimated cost of implementing the cap on care costs proposed by the Dilnot commission on funding care.

The Dilnot proposals would protect individuals with assets from paying for their care beyond a certain level. However, they would not address the long-term gap in social care funding caused by demographic changes and falling local authority budgets.

Sarah Pickup, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, told LGC: “The figures in the report are not very clear. If the report is arguing that the costs of funding the Dilnot proposals should not come from the NHS, we would absolutely agree with that.

“However, it is not necessarily wrong to fund some of the long-term costs of social care from the NHS budget. Investing more [of the health budget] in preventative services would reduce the costs of acute care, so there is a payback for the NHS.”

David Rogers (Lib Dem), chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “As resources become increasingly stretched, closer and more effective working between councils and the NHS will be an essential part of how we look after our ageing population. 

“Paying for adult social care already takes up more than 40% of council budgets and notions that efficiency savings alone can bridge the ever-increasing funding gap are pure fantasy. Expecting the NHS simply to pick up the tab is also not the answer.”

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