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Social care cuts impede healthcare integration, committee says

Social care cuts impede healthcare integration, committee says

By Léa Legraien
24 October 2018

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Councils’ attempt to reduce spending on adult social care has negatively affected progress on linking health and social care more closely, a Government committee has said.

A report published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday showed that reduced authorities spending on adult social care has resulted in ‘no realistic prospect of progress’ on health and care integration.

This comes ahead of the Government’s green paper, expected to be published in November, which will look at sustainable ways to fund adult social care in the future.

‘Limited progress’

Although the Government set out a ‘high-level vision for what integrated health and social care should look like’, the PAC argued that ‘limited progress’ has been made on joining up health and social care.

PAC chair Meg Hillier MP said: ‘The time for warm words and wishful thinking is over. If the Government is serious about delivering the benefits of integrated health and social care, it must act to make it happen.

‘Without this action, the array of outputs over the past two decades – consultations, reviews, Government papers – will never be matched by improved outcomes for service users.

‘Social care has suffered long-term underfunding and it is unacceptable that councils, under considerable financial pressure and facing growing demand for care services, must wait until 2020 for clarity.’

PAC recommended the Government to come up with a ‘costed 10-year strategy for social care’ alongside the long-term NHS plan.

Rising social care needs  

Figures from NHS Digital reveal that demand for adult social care services is increasing. In 2017/18, local authorities received 1.8 million new requests – a 1.6% increase compared to the previous year – representing 5,100 new demands a day.

Despite growing demands and councils usually spending nearly 60% of their budget on social care, Government watchdog the National Audit Office estimated that real-terms spending on adult social care declined by 5.3% between 2010/11 and 2016/17.

Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board councillor Ian Hudspeth said:

‘If we are to deliver the most effective integration between health and social care possible, it’s essential that funding for both health services and social care is secured on a long-term basis and that local health and care leaders are given the space, resources and time to deliver appropriate solutions for the communities they serve.’

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