Social care cuts adding to NHS squeeze, say FDs

22 Oct 15

Cuts to social care budgets in local government are putting extra pressure on NHS services, according to over 80% of heath service finance directors who responded to a King’s Fund poll.

The think-tank’s quarterly survey found that 88% of the 90 NHS trust finance directors questioned, and 80% of the 58 clinical commissioning group finance leads who responded, felt that reductions in social care budget were adversely affecting the health service.

According to the report, around 5,000 patients experienced delays in being discharged from hospital at the end of August – the highest level at this time of year since 2007. Nearly one-third of these were caused by problems accessing social care services, which was up 21% in the past year.

John Appleby, the fund’s chief economist, said the report showed the financial crisis engulfing the NHS and social care.

“With winter approaching, the NHS faces a toxic mix of widespread deficits, rising waiting times and low morale,” he stated.

“There is now clear evidence that cuts to social care budgets are affecting the NHS, as well as reducing services for people that need them. The government must use the Spending Review to protect the social care system from further cuts and reinvest the £6bn previously earmarked to implement the Dilnot reforms.”

The report also found that almost two-thirds (63%) of trust finance directors and 88% of acute trusts were forecasting a deficit at the end of the financial year. This comes after NHS providers reported a £930m deficit in the first three months of 2015/16, £163m more than forecast.

In addition, a quarter (27%) of NHS trust finance directors warned that measures to cap spending on agency staff will affect their ability to ensure safe staffing levels.

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