Extra funding to enable “increasingly powerless” councils to bolster social care services would play a key role in preventing future winter pressures on the NHS, the chair of the Local Government Association has said.
Lord Porter (Con) said the current crisis in the NHS, which has seen a sharp rise in the number of patients facing delays when attending A&E in recent days and the cancellation of tens of thousands of non-urgent operations, should “incentivise” the government to invest in services that keep people out of hospital.
He said: “Extra funding for social care can empower councils to prioritise prevention work which is key to reducing the pressures on the health service and keeping people out of hospital in the first place. This will help alleviate the chances of winter crises happening in the future.”
Despite repeated calls for urgent further funding for social care, last month’s provisional local government settlement included no new investment in services.
Lord Porter called on the government to reconsider its position ahead of the publication of the final settlement in the coming weeks.
He added: “Immediate extra funding will help avoid a situation where people spend longer in hospital, rather than in their own home and communities – or having their operations cancelled more regularly - as NHS pressures increase and councils are left increasingly powerless to help.”
In an attempt to prepare for seasonal pressures on hospitals this winter, the government imposed targets on councils for reducing delayed transfers of care from hospitals attributable to social care.
Analysis published today by the Kings Fund shows these decreased by 16% between February and October last year.
However, when NHS and local government performance on delayed transfers is taken together, 103 of 151 council areas still missed their targets.