The Local Government Association is calling for councils to receive more funding to deal with NHS “bedblocking” this winter after figures showed councils received less than 6% of a fund designed to alleviate the problem in 2014-15.
The LGA wants the government to give councils £210 million of this year’s £700 million Winter Resilience Fund so that their adult social care departments can help the NHS to get older people out of hospital if they are ready to leave.
Research by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services showed local authorities received just 5.9% – or £41 million – of the £700m 2014-15 winter resilience fund in 2014-15 even though a third of hospital beds are occupied by elderly people who could go home or into a care home with the right support.
This year the £700m funding was shared out between clinical commissioning groups at the beginning of the financial year for them to decide how best tp spend it.
NHS figures showed hospital beds were ‘blocked’ for 145,067 days over the last 12 months by people who should have been discharged, an increase of 7,454 days in the last year.
In 2014-15 30% of delayed discharges were attributed to a lack of ongoing social care, up from 25% the previous year.
At the National Children’s and Adults Services Conference on Wednesday, the LGA, ADASS and the Department of Health launched guidance for councils to help them plan and manage getting people out of hospital in a more timely and efficient way.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Con), the LGA’s community wellbeing spokesman and leader of Warwickshire council, said: “We saw last year the huge impact that winter had on people’s lives when they were getting stuck in hospital instead of safely discharged into the community. No one’s elderly parent, grandparents or friends should be left unnecessarily in a hospital bed, when they could be treated in the comfort and dignity of their own home.
“The only way this will work is if councils get a fairer share of the funding available to enable them to alleviate the pressures on the NHS this winter.
“We need to see a change to the current perverse funding system which, over the last five years, has seen an increase in funding for the NHS but a decrease in funding for social care. This threatens to leave councils struggling to commission the essential support which keeps people out of hospital and living healthier and happier lives in their communities.”
In a joint submission to the government’s spending review, the LGA and Adass argue the health and social care system needs an annual £2bn transformation fund if it is to be sustainable over the rest of the parliament.
The two bodies also call on the government to expand the better care fund, in contrast to NHS England which asked government to freeze the transfers of money from the NHS to social care under the fund in its submission to the spending review.
The submission also renews calls for the government to plug the growing social care funding gap using the £6bn earmarked to fund the now postponed second phase of reforms under the Care Act.