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NHS boost 'like pouring water down a sink' without care cash

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At least four major representative groups for local government have warned that any additional resource for the National Health Service must be matched with similar funding for social care.

The prime minister’s pledge to provide £20bn a year in extra funding for the NHS by 2023 would be akin to “pouring water down a sink with no plug in” were it to be delivered without similar support for preventative health services, said Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Glen Garrod.

Spokespersons for the Local Government Association, County Councils Network, and the Association of Directors of Public Health joined Adass in issuing statements on the need for “complementary” funding for adult social care.

Mr Garrod said: “It is deeply disappointing to see no further investment in social care in this settlement. As has been remarked before, putting money into the NHS without putting it into social care is like pouring water down a sink with no plug in.

“There is sufficient evidence to be clear that investing in health care delivers only a partial solution to better meeting the health and social care needs of many people in society. If we want to truly transform lives and reduce the pressures on hospitals, we must invest in supporting people at home, in their communities. That is the job of social care alongside community and primary health services.”

Spokespersons for the LGA and CCN have both warned that health and social care should not be viewed in isolation from each other, emphasising the need for additional funding for local government.

Izzi Seccombe (Con), chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “By prioritising funding towards those who have hit a health crisis, rather than preventing it, taxpayers’ money is not being utilised in the most efficient way. Properly funding social care would help prevent crises in the NHS by reducing the numbers of people who are admitted to hospital in the first place.”

David Williams (Con), CCN spokesman for health and social care and leader of Hertfordshire CC, said: “Health and social care should not be viewed in isolation from each other. Extra funding and system reform will complement each other, reducing unplanned and planned hospital admissions and lowering the social care cost burden for local authorities as well as improving residents’ lives.”

Cllr Williams also said the forthcoming green paper on health and social care should give social care the “parity with the NHS that the system needs”.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt appears to have recognised the message coming from the sector when he said last week that the NHS should adopt a longer term outlook on spending and workforce planning. Health Service Journal has reported the NHS funding agreement contains a commitment that the health service “should not face additional pressures” due to demands from social care.

Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “Just funding hospitals doesn’t make sense, either for improving people’s health or for the economy.

“We now need to put serious effort - and money - into helping people not get ill in the first place, and they become ill and go into hospital, to help them get home as quickly as possible. If we don’t do this then we will need to find another £20bn or more in a few years’ time.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I couldn't agree more with Mr Garrod.

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  • Absolutely and now social care green paper and the long grass meet again. Always the Cinderella to the NHS queen....

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