STPs cannot succeed without fresh social care Budget cash, says Health Foundation

STPs cannot hope to succeed unless the adult social care funding gap of £2bn is addressed, a report released today by major charity the Health Foundation has revealed.

The briefing analysed STP proposals to reform health and social care in England and found that reductions to social care budgets had left 400,000 less people receiving essential help, and that a “robust social care sector” was essential for STPs to reach care targets and accommodate the UK’s elderly and vulnerable people.

The report has piled on even more pressure on chancellor Phillip Hammond to provide fresh funding for social care in the Spring Budget next week, which could be critical to the future success of integrated health and social care plans.

It also comes on the same day that NHS England CEO Simon Stevens announced that a new ‘care test’ was being put in place to ensure that STPs would not be able to cut hospital beds unless sufficient alternatives were considered.

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, said: “The NHS is working hard to transform services and deliver £22bn of efficiency savings. But those efforts are at risk without extra funding for social care

“The health service’s own figures suggest that social care needs £2bn of extra funding for next year, in line with other research. The case for funding social care could not be clearer. Vulnerable and older people have the right to expect help when they need it most. But the case for social care is not just moral – it’s about hard-edged economics.” 

She added: “The clear message from local NHS plans is that without extra funding for social care, the proposals to transform care and improve efficiency will be put at risk. 

“In next week’s Budget, the chancellor must help the NHS with extra funding for social care.”

Charlesworth also argued that “tinkering at the edges is not enough”, since the amount needed by STPs for the next year – which the BMA estimates to be around £10bn – “can only come from a direct injection of cash from central government”.

Margaret Willcox, president elect of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), also pushed for the government to be proactive in ensuring that social care was properly supported by central government with new funding.  

“STPs are key to starting and achieving the transformation of health and adult social care to support people as active citizens, prevent ill health and reduce demand on hospitals by delivering care closer to people’s homes. Social care is critical to that,” she added.

“We welcome the Health Foundation’s briefing on the social care funding gap. With care homes closing, councils projecting in-year overspends of almost £450m, and the cost of the welcome National Living Wage, if STPs are to succeed it is vital that the funding crisis in adult social care is addressed to enable their implementation, as this report highlights.”

Willcox concluded by again calling on the chancellor to provide money for councils to support social care, saying: “In next week’s Budget the chancellor needs to provide genuine new money and a long-term, sustainable solution for adult social care.

“This will help to ensure STPs are successful by providing dignified care to thousands of older and disabled people and their families who are struggling to manage with services currently in significant and increasing jeopardy.”

Further details about the STPs are expected to be announced later this month, but Stevens has already revealed that up to 10 plans will be accountable care organisations or systems, and that footprint leaders will be able to “marshal the forces of the CCGs and local NHS England staff”.

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