Councils have saved the NHS nearly £60m by dramatically reducing the number of days patients are delayed in hospitals due to a lack of social care availability, according to new research.
Analysis of NHS England figures by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) found the number of delayed days attributable to adult social care fell by 187,864 in the last 12 months.
The NHS has calculated that having one extra bed available in hospital throughout 2016-17 saves £313 per day.
Therefore, the reduction in costs provided by the performance of adult social care services has saved the NHS £58.8m
Social care services have been responsible for 29% of all delayed transfers of care during the period, with the NHS responsible for 67%.
The £2bn under the improved better care fund over three years, announced in last year’s budget, was followed by targets being imposed by the government on councils to reduce delayed transfers of care, with a threat that funding could be withdrawn.
Adass president Glen Garrod has warned the targets “skewed investment and behaviour” by ignoring wider pressures in the system.
The annual Adass budget this year found no director of adult social care in England was fully confident their council would be able to meet its statutory requirements in 2020-21 due to chronic underfunding.
Adass is calling for short-term emergency funding in the forthcoming autumn statement as well as a long-term funding solution in the delayed social care green paper, which is due to be published in November alongside the NHS ten-year plan.
The research also found the cost of all delayed days in 2017-18 was £253.8m but if the beds had been provided in residential care instead, the cost would have been £73.8m.
Adass vice president Julie Ogley urged the government to build on the work of the LGA, and others in the sector, and deliver a green paper “which must contain a long-term funding solution, as soon as possible”.
“In the meantime, however, urgent and immediate funding is needed to help social care keep track with the pressures of an ageing population, and in turn, reduce those pressures on the NHS,” said Ms Ogley. “The best way to help people live as independently as possible, as long as possible, is to provide effective support in the communities in which they live.”