When social care is cut, the NHS bleeds

15 September 2016

The King's Fund and the Nuffield Trust have published a new report, Social care for older people: home truths, which looks at the current state of social care services for older people in England. 

The emerging picture is one of social care providers under pressure, struggling to retain staff, maintain quality and stay in business; local authorities making unenviable choices about where to make reductions; a complex set of causes of delays in discharging older people from hospital; and the voluntary sector keeping services going even when funding was curtailed.

Commenting on the report, Saffron Cordery, NHS Providers director of policy and strategy, said: 

“This is the latest in a number of independent reports which makes clear the pressures on health and care services, and the inter-dependence of adult social care and NHS services. There is an extricable link between social care and healthcare: when you cut social care provision, the NHS bleeds.

“Over the last six years cuts to adult social care mean a staggering 26% fewer people now receive the publicly funded social care they need. This has real consequences for individuals, families and carers, many of whom have not been able to plan ahead to self fund their own care needs in this way.

There is an extricable link between social care and healthcare: when you cut social care provision, the NHS bleeds

“It also places growing strain on the NHS which has seen an 18% rise in emergency hospital admissions for older people and an escalation in delayed transfers of care as hospitals struggle to get well people home at the right time with the right support. This report is further evidence of a health and care sector reaching a breaking point.

“Local hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance trusts stand ready to work collaboratively with their colleagues in social care. The solution to the financial challenges NHS Providers has been highlighting lies in a clearer funding strategy for both health and care for the future and a transparent public debate about the options to underpin that. Successive public reports, including the Barker Commission, have recommended an increase in health and care funding as a proportion of GDP, and we are in full agreement that unless social care is adequately funded, the NHS will fail to recover its financial position by the end of the parliament. Social care funding must be a core consideration for the government ahead of the autumn statement.”