Cuts in the social care budget are having an impact on NHS work – and there will be many more to come.
Filed Under (Public Health, Social Care) by Paul on 17-05-2012
Looking back over the posts on my blog the only time that I have really talked about cuts in local government services has been in the context of how lucky the NHS is to have overall funding that has not been cut.
That has been an error on my part. It is obvious that the cuts in social care would have an impact on the work of the NHS and this is starting to happen. Some parts of the country in which I work have over 120 older patients whose discharge from hospital has been blocked by social care problems. Given this is May and not December these numbers are bigger than the health care system would like and foretell bigger problems by the winter.
Yesterday saw a report drawn from Freedom of Information requests from 120 different local authorities showed that in 2011 there were 11% fewer older people that had completely free home care services than in 2009.
The average charge per hour for those having to pay the full cost has gone up by 10% over the last two years. On average older people have 10 hours of home care a week and would therefore have seen their home care bills rise to Â£7077 by next year.
The rise in the threshold for free care and the rise in price will inevitably mean that some older people who would have had care will not be getting it.
The point for the NHS is that the older people who would have been relying on these services are also some of the core customers of the NHS. This demographic group have to use a lot of NHS services and on occasions will be spending time in hospital with inpatient care. The decision that the hospital will make about their discharge will depend on the level of care available at home and some of that care will have gone missing. People will stay longer in hospital than they would have.
The Alzheimerâ€™s society has the right comment.
Â â€œMany people with dementia and their carers are already struggle to pay for home care. The extraordinary costs in some parts of the country donâ€™t even guarantee good quality care. This is disgraceful. Home care services are vital in helping to maintain quality of life for people living with dementiaâ€
And, they might add, will lead to increased use of hospitals as places of safety even though these are probably the most disturbing environment for people with dementia.
The real problem is that the cuts in the social care budget have only just started. There are cuts of 28% in the funding of local authorities over the coming four years.
Over that period of time the rise in demand for health care from older people is likely to be in the order of at least 10%. If, because of social care cuts in services, that 10% of new patients stay in hospital for just a little longer than current patients the NHS with a flat budget is going to be in even more trouble than we thoughtâ€¦