Social care gap putting pressure on NHS, report says

 The £2bn gap in long-term social care funding will have a detrimental effect on NHS services, a new report by the NHS Confederation has predicted.

The report, Papering over the cracks, suggests that a failure to resolve the funding issue will have a severe impact on patients as more people require services.

Jo Webber, NHS Confederation Deputy Director of Policy, said the NHS “cannot keep on picking up the pieces of a broken social care system.”

The NHS Confed has now called for a cross-party political consensus to address the immediate cash surplus and find a long-term funding solution.

If a solution is not found, the Confederation warns that even basic social care services which are currently provided may not be available in the future.

The report advises that the health and social care system must respond to the needs of a population where people are living longer with long-term conditions. It found that more people are accessing NHS services due to cuts in social care, and that funds allocated to transform services have been used to ‘paper over the cracks’ in the social care system.

At a time when the NHS is being asked to find £5bn of efficiency savings, the report adds that it is not sustainable for the health service to continue covering the social care funding gap.

“The NHS and our local authority colleagues need to look at how we can radically redesign care and be more innovative in the way we integrate services for people with care needs,” said Jo Webber.

“We cannot solve this problem on our own. Increased funding is a key part of this solution. Without the involvement of the Treasury, including a clear outline of how we will address long-term social care funding in the next Spending Review, we will see a decline in services and greater pressure building on the NHS.”

The NHS Confederation backed the short term transfer of NHS funds to support local social care services. But it added that a continued policy of “robbing Peter to pay Paul would be very short sighted.”