The majority of councils have managed to reduce delayed transfers of care over the first half of this financial year, but have still failed to meet government targets aimed at reducing pressures on hospitals, LGC analysis of figures released today shows.
The Department of Communities & Local Government and the Department of Health in July set “expectations” on councils for their performance on delayed transfers by a September deadline, using a baseline of their performance in February. Failure to meet the targets could result in loss of better care fund cash in 2018-19.
NHS England data for September reveals that almost two-thirds (92) of 151 councils have reduced average daily transfers over the review period, with 27 cutting average daily rates by more than 50%.
Nationally, delayed transfers attributed solely to adult social care fell by 1% in September compared to the previous month.
However, 91 councils failed to meet the reduction targets set by government, with seven councils seeing their delayed transfers more than double during the review period.
Figures for Wirral MBC show an increase from an average daily delayed transfer rate of one in February to 14 in September, while the rate for Harrow LBC rose from three to 15.
The other councils were York City Council, Calderdale MBC, Gloucestershire CC and Camden and Lambeth LBCs.
The target imposed on Hampshire CC required it to reduce delayed transfers by 66%. However, the figures show delayed transfers in the county increased by a quarter between February and September.
This meant Hampshire CC missed the target by a daily average of 112 delayed transfers, the largest gap of any council.
Northamptonshire CC was set a target of reducing delayed transfers by 67%, but the number increased since February from 51 to 85 – a rise of 67%.
However, some councils exceeded their required reductions. Lincolnshire CC surpassed its target by nine average daily delayed transfers, the highest figure for any council, followed by Derbyshire CC (6) and Southwark LBC (5).
The Local Government Association in July withdrew its support for Better Care Fund planning guidance for 2017-19, which states that councils must use their allocations to meet delayed transfers targets or face the prospect of losing funding.
A total of 18 councils have been placed in a better care fund “escalation” process due to government concerns over their performance on reducing delayed transfers of care.
Izzi Seccombe (Con), chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said councils had reduced delayed transfers by 7.2% since July, compared to a 3.4% reduction by the NHS during the same period.
She added: “It is vital that government and NHS England work with councils to make sure we all make the best use of our scarce resources.
“But we are clear that social care needs a long-term sustainable funding solution and we are calling on the chancellor to set out how government will plug the annual £2.3 billion funding gap by the end of the decade in the forthcoming Autumn Budget.”
President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services Margaret Willcox described the latest figures as a “fantastic achievement”.
She added: “Councils remain focused on prioritising discharge from hospital as well as preventing admission to hospital in the first place.
“Adult social care needs to be treated as a national priority and given at least equal funding prominence to that of the NHS as both services are inter-dependent.”