NHS England should consider the impact of funding and demand pressures in social care on emergency admissions to hospital as a quarter could be avoided with more effective care in the community, MPs have said.
A report by the Public Accounts Committee, published today, says 24% of the 5.8 million emergency admissions in 2016-17 could have been avoided with better preventative work, but adds there has been a lack of investment by the NHS in these services, with rising demand on adult social care and “limited council finances” described as “particularly worrying”.
The committee recommends that NHS England should identify gaps in primary and community health care and set out how it intends to address these.
It adds: “It should also consider the impact of pressures on social care provision on emergency admissions and use this understanding to inform discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and HM Treasury about the green paper on future funding of social care.”
The report adds NHS England is using various interventions including new care models and the better care fund to reduce emergency admissions.
But it says this is “too piecemeal and “varies regionally” and neither NHS England or NHS Improvement know what is the most effective approach.
The report adds NHS England “has not systematically engaged with the voluntary sector to understand fully the importance of its support in reducing emergency admissions”.
Responding to the report, chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board Izzi Seccombe (Con) said councils need urgent funding to invest in effective prevention work, with the funding gap in social care set to exceed £2bn by 2020.
She added: “Essential prevention work and early intervention services are also being hampered by a £600 million reduction in councils’ public health budgets by central government between 2015-16 and 2019-20.
“The LGA is calling for these reductions to be reversed by the government, which will help to further reduce NHS pressures and costs increasing.”
Last month the Public Accounts Committee said the government must devise a credible plan by the end of the year for establishing a sustainable adult social care system and implement it quickly.