Doctors urge Chancellor to release £700m Better Care funding immediately

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 28: Chancellor George Osborne departs Downing Street on October 28, 2015 in London, England. Yesterday Chancellor George Osborne promised to bring tax credit spending under control despite suffering a defeat in the House of Lords last night. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

An open letter from 14 doctors’ leaders has highlighted the importance of giving social care additional funding in today’s Budget.

Addressed to chancellor George Osborne, the document says cuts in social care funding have put pressure on the NHS and making further investment in this area is “vital to the success” of the healthcare system.

The letter is signed by 14 doctors including Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and other representatives from bodies such as the Royal College of Physicians and the British Geriatrics Society.

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It says how health and social care are essentially “two sides of the same coin” and warns what could happen to the NHS if the system becomes too underfunded.

According to their letter to the chancellor, a social care system without enough investment would mean that patients are unable to leave hospital because there is no support for them at home.

This means that there is a shortage of beds and new patients can’t be admitted, which has an impact on the number of appointments and operations that have to be cancelled.

Not only does this have an effect on the ability of healthcare professionals to provide “timely treatment and meet treatment targets”, but it also puts patient safety at risk and can cause people to have to take longer off work, which could be “ultimately detrimental to the economy”, the doctors wrote.

Mr Osborne will announce how government funding will be distributed in the Budget today, but there are concerns that not enough of it will be invested back into social care.

There has already been up to £3.5 billion outlined for local councils to access better support in terms of adult social care services by 2019-20. However, the doctors say this will not be enough.

They suggest investing the £700 million – outlined in the Better Care Fund for 2017 – now, instead of spreading it over three years.

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