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Funding social care through budget will help NHS meet demands

We can no longer afford to plan and fund health and care services in isolation, Colleges tell chancellor

Louise Prime

Thursday, 18 October 2018

We can no longer afford to plan and fund health and care services in isolation and we need right now a stronger strategy to ensure people live both long and healthy lives, a group of Royal Colleges have told the chancellor. In their joint letter to Philip Hammond, they have urged him to use the autumn budget to deliver a long-term investment in adult social care, public health services and the NHS workforce – or otherwise risk the NHS failing to meet demands, despite the recent £20.5 billion funding increase.

They told the chancellor that ‘once again’, the NHS is facing a winter of high bed occupancy rates and low staff morale, and argued that an injection of adult social care funding would significantly alleviate this. And they warned him that unless he uses the autumn budget as an opportunity to build upon the NHS funding settlement, plans for truly integrated care will not be possible, and consequent demand on NHS services will not be manageable.

The letter, copied to health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, is jointly signed by the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Nursing, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Public Health and Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH). They pointed out: “A healthier population is key to the long-term sustainability of all public services, including NHS and social care services. There is strong evidence that prevention interventions are cost-effective, reduce health inequalities, and can deliver improvements in health and return on investment in the short, medium, and long-term.”

The Colleges said the UK has not properly planned for the challenges brought as more people live into old age – 40% of people over the age of 65 have a long-term health condition, which must be well managed to enable older people to enjoy their later years.

They pointed out that adult social care services in England are estimated to face a £3.5 billion funding gap by 2025, purely to maintain existing standards of care. They said: “This gap needs to be plugged, and a long-term funding solution identified, as a matter of urgency,” because without proper funding of services for older and disabled people in the community, both they and primary and secondary care patients suffer as they remain stranded in waiting rooms and hospitals – which not only leads to poorer outcomes for them, it also significantly reduces the resources available to treat other patients.

They warned: “There is no excuse for delay. Once again we face a winter of high bed occupancy and low staff morale, which an injection of adult social care funding will significantly alleviate…

“Every part of the system is linked, and we can no longer afford to plan and fund health and care services in isolation. A stronger strategy to make sure we live both long and healthy lives must start now.”

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