Moving The Cost Of Care To The Community
Local authority social care provision is attempting to ease the burden on the NHS. Is social care paying the price for an over-stretched NHS?
13th April 2017
By Jacqui Lee
With an ageing population, and more people enjoying a longer life, the current rate of elderly people looking after each other rather than relying on formal care, is at 1.4million. Worryingly, 65% of these have claimed they have health problems or disabilities of their own.
With the average cost of Nursing care pushing £40,000 per year, coupled with longer life spans, the NHS is taking the full impact of the demand as people cannot afford the means-tested system the local authorities provide. (ref: Age UK). This has led to politicians debating what they describe as the UK's social care funding crisis.
With the current in-cohesion, NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, has introduced a sustainability and transformation plan with the objective to integrate Health and Social Care so that national meets local. It would seem that currently there is a blurry blending of the two, with the high demand on the NHS for A&E and hospital beds being heavily impacted by the poor design of UK Social Care services. After all, the effect of this on the overall state of the NHS is becoming daily news.
Social Care patients are really paying the price for this lack of cohesion as incentives and procedures are clashing and producing pressure within the systems that, ultimately, are designed to care.
The response to the Social Care crisis was a Social Care precept, introduced by George Osborne to allow an increase of up to 2% in Council Tax to be spent on Social Care.
Yet as a recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) points out, this introduction will hit poorer councils harder as the amount Councils can raise in Council Tax is dependant upon their tax base.
The study also indicated that cuts in Social Care were greater in the North of England, where the need for care was greater, than in the South of England, which has a higher population of elderly people. (ref: Institute of Fiscal Studies)
As Social Care is funded by local authorities, the national, and Government focus seems to be on the NHS. Although the Autumn Budget saw a delivery of £2 billion being made available for Social Care, it is being introduced in ways that will ease the growing pressure on the NHS.
It is being argued that the welfare of the elderly is not only about Care Homes, but about community projects such as stroke rehabilitation, currently something the NHS provides.
With the Government promising another green paper on paying for Social Care in the next Autumn Budget, we can only hope for a brighter future as hard work is needed to make progress to combine the two elements and produce a more central Government funding.