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Tuesday, 02 October 2018

Hancock attempts to ease NHS winter pressures with extra £240M social care fund

Written by David Hughes

An emergency £240 million will be pumped into the social care system to ease pressure on the NHS this winter.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock will use his speech at the Conservative Party conference to act to prevent hospital beds being used by people who could be better cared for in their homes.

The extra £240 million will be allocated to councils to spend on measures including housing adaptations and care packages.

The money could buy 71,500 domestic care packages or 86,500 "reablement" packages.

Mr Hancock will tell the conference in Birmingham: "I can announce that today I am making an extra £240 million available to pay for social care packages this winter to support our NHS.

"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.

"And help people who really need it get the hospital care they need."

Shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley said: "There is a severe crisis in social care caused by eight years of Tory austerity, and tinkering at the edges like this is not going to solve it.

"With 400,000 fewer people receiving care under this Government than in 2010, funding such a small number of care packages is a drop in the ocean.

"Labour will rebuild social care services, starting with an extra £8 billion across a Parliament to start to ease the crisis, to lift care quality and ensure more people get the support they need."

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association's Community Wellbeing Board, welcomed the "desperately-needed" injection of funds but said the Government must find a long-term solution.

He said: "Councils successfully used extra social care funding from the Government last year to reduce delayed transfer of care days attributable to social care by 37 per cent since July 2017 and alleviate some of the pressure on the NHS.

"This has proved that there cannot be a sustainable NHS without a sustainable social care system.

"However, short-term bailouts are not the answer. Councils and providers cannot simply turn services on and off as funding ebbs and flows. Putting in place the right services and workforce requires forward planning and longer term contracts.

"Adult social care services still face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, just to maintain existing standards of care."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kirsty O'Connor / PA Wire.