Delayed transfers of care (DTOC) fell by more than a fifth in January, according to NHS England.
There were 152,300 DTOC in the month, of which 99,800 were in acute care, compared with 197,500 and 130,500, respectively, in the year earlier month.
The total delayed days in January 2018 was equivalent to 4,913 daily DTOC beds, compared with 4,688 in December 2017 and 6,371 in January 2017.
Almost 60% of all delays were attributable to the NHS with social care accounting for 32.5% (down from 35.2% in the January 2017) and the remaining 7.6% due to a combination of both services.
The main reason for social care delays in January 2018 was patients awaiting care packages in their own home. This accounted for 16,800 delayed days (34% of all social care delays), compared with 24,600 in January 2017. The number of delays attributable for this reason has been increasing steadily since February 2015 and reached a peak in December 2016.
The data follows research last week which showed additional funding helped reduce DTOC by more than a quarter between February 2017 and January 2018 (see Consultancy calls for more effective use of Better Care Fund).
Margaret Willcox, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, (ADASS), said: “Councils are doing all they can to reduce the number of delayed transfers of care due to social care. If we are to ease the winter pressures on the health service, it’s essential we get people out of hospital and make sure they get the appropriate social care they need.
“Social care staff have put in their very best efforts in recent months, and January in particular was a very difficult month where hospitals came under significant strain as a result of the winter pressures. Our staff are on the frontline of the funding crisis affecting adult social care, yet day in, day out, they do the very best they can in challenging circumstances, working to improve lives.
“Social care is about helping people live well and independently in their homes, and to keep them out of hospital in the first place. Sadly the funding pressures facing services means this is under real threat.
“We would urge the Government to make sure their hard work and determination is met with the funding and resources that social care teams across the country desperately need. The forthcoming Green Paper is an essential opportunity to put social care on a long-term, sustainable financial footing. However, social care faces short-term pressures and needs an immediate injection of funding right now if services are able to deliver.”