The social care sector will receive £240m to better cope with winter pressures, the Government has decided.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced the extra funding at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham today.
The additional funding is being released to ensure that those who are medically fit can quickly be discharged from hospital and return home, and to avoid older people ending up in hospital when it is not necessary.
Mr Hancock said: ‘I can announce today that I am making an extra £240m available to pay for social care packages this winter to support our NHS.’
Hospitals will also receive an extra £145m to help them prepare for the ‘winter demand’ and improve emergency care, it was announced last month.
Councils will receive the extra money according to the adult social care relative needs formulae and will be able to decide whether to spend it on housing adaptations, measures designed to prevent hospital admissions or on providing care packages.
Delayed transfers of care
Mr Hancock said: ‘We will use this money to get people who don’t need to be in hospital, but do need care, back home, back into their communities, so we can free up those vital hospital beds.’
Last year the Government took action to tackle delayed transfers of care (DTOC), when chancellor Philip Hammond released £2bn of additional funding to adult social care services to ease pressure on the NHS.
NHS figures published in August showed that the number of DTOC days attributed to social care had dropped by 40% since June last year.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: ‘Delays in transferring patients to care outside of hospital have been a focal point of winter pressure on the health system.’
He praised the hard work of both trusts and local authorities but added that after the ‘record-breaking demand’ they experienced this summer, ‘trusts are not in the position they would want to be in heading into winter’.
He added: ‘This extra money will definitely help and we therefore welcome it.’
LGA’s community wellbeing board Cllr Ian Hudspeth said councils used last year’s funding to reduce DTOC days, which ‘proved that there cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable social care system’.
‘Bold action’ in the green paper
Today’s announcement comes a few weeks before the Government releases its green paper for adult social care.
Mr Hopson said: ‘For the long-term the Government’s forthcoming green paper must propose bold action to put social care on the sustainable footing it so desperately needs.’
According to the LGA, adult social care faces a £3.5bn funding gap by 2025. Cllr Hudspeth said: ‘Short-term bailouts are not the answer.
‘The Government must use its own upcoming adult social care green paper to address the fundamental problems facing adult social care and ensure full and sustainable funding.’