Hancock announces £240m social care funding ahead of green paper

The health and social care secretary Matt Hancock is set to announce an emergency £240m fund to be injected into social care to free up beds this winter.

In a speech today at the Conservative Party conference, the secretary of state will say the much-needed money will be spent on prevention and on getting people home swiftly in order to free up beds.

General and acute bed occupancy was at a whopping 94.4% last winter, with an average of 20 trusts having over 99% occupancy – well above the recommended the levels – each day.

The lack of funding for social care has put extreme pressures on hospitals and care services alike. This new fund comes as welcome news after an almost £1bn social care funding gap was identified as far back as 2016.

Part of Hancock’s speech appeared in the national press this morning. He will say: “I want to help the NHS through this winter, too. I have already provided funding for hospitals to make upgrades to their buildings to deal with pressures this winter. And I can announce that today I am making an extra £240m 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.”

Reacting to today’s news, chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said the funding for councils will be “strongly welcomed by trusts” and is exactly what his organisation called for last month.

“Delays in transferring patients to care outside of hospital have been a focal point of winter pressure on the health system. These waits are not good for patients, families or NHS staff working under pressure. Trusts and local authorities have worked incredibly hard over the year to reduce these delays,” he added.

“But after a difficult summer of record-breaking demand, trusts are not in the position they would want to be in heading into winter. This extra money will definitely help and we therefore welcome it.

“For the long term the government’s forthcoming green paper must propose bold action to put social care on the sustainable footing it so desperately needs.”

Top image: Kirsty O'Connor


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