The House of Commons Health Committee’s report on the impact of the Spending Review on health and social care has expressed “grave doubts” that a five year plan to improve the capability and capacity of the NHS and social care system will be delivered.
The committee concluded that, with much of the upfront investment flowing from the Spending Review being used to address deficits, there is a real danger that greater integration and the move to the new models of care set out in the Five Year Forward View will stall.
“The integration of health and social care—not just the integration of funding, as in the Better Care Fund, but getting commissioners and service providers in each sector to work more closely together to deliver a service to their local population—is not proceeding at the required pace,” the committee’s report states.
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the Health Select Committee adds: “Historical cuts to social care funding have now exhausted the opportunities for significant further efficiencies in this area.
“Increasing numbers of people with genuine social care needs are no longer receiving the care they need because of a lack of funding. This not only causes considerable distress to these individuals and their families but results in additional costs to the NHS. We are concerned about the effect of additional funding streams for social care not arriving until later in the Parliament.”
Responding to the report, Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, says that immediate action is required to provide adequate levels of health and social care.
“The findings demonstrate very clearly that people are not getting the care that they need and this needs to be tackled with immediate action,” he says.
The Health Select Committee report identifies NHS bed blocking, known as delayed transfer of care, as a systemic failure that is an unnecessary burden on taxpayers and a failure for people stuck in hospitals. This a problem that Professor Green says needs to be tackled. “One of the Committee’s key recommendations is that the Government urgently assesses and sets out publicly the additional costs to the NHS as a result of delayed transfers of care, and the wider costs to the NHS associated with pressures on adult social care budgets more generally. Care England is very supportive of this recommendation and hopes that the Committee will hold the Government to account by ensuring that the assessment is accompanied by a plan for adult social care which demonstrates that it is addressing the situation in social care and dealing with its effect on health services,” he outlines.