County councils call for additional funding after delayed transfers cost NHS £300million

CCN News 2016 | 13 June 2016

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Delayed transfers of care in county areas cost the NHS over £300million last year, prompting calls for additional funding to help councils stay afloat.

Analysis from the County Councils Network reveals there has been a significant increase in the number of days for patients waiting for a residential care home placement or care package in the past year.

CCN warns this is down to a mixture of rising demand and unsustainable care markets where beds are closing in their thousands each year as a result in a dearth of Government funding. From April 2015 to March 2016, there were almost one million delayed days in county areas, creating hundreds of millions in unnecessary costs for the NHS.

Last month, research from healthcare consultants Laing and Buisson showed that over 7,000 beds were deregistered in 2015, making it more difficult for county authorities to find suitable social care placements quickly, delaying their transfer.

County leaders, whose authorities have the largest and fastest-growing elderly population, are calling on funding in the Better Care Fund (BCF) to be brought forward now to help address the current funding crisis, rather than at the end of the decade.

The Government’s figure of £3.5billion extra to tackle the issue, including the BCF, also incorporates the optional social care precept, but this additional funding will be largely offset by the extra costs of the New National Living Wage, and discounts population and demographic growth.

CCN and care providers are asking for more sustainable funding to stabilise the market, with the Kings Fund estimating there will be a funding gap of at least £2.8billion by the end of this Parliament.

In county areas, there has been a 28.7 per cent increase in the total number of patients whose transfer of care has been delayed from the period of 2011 to 2015, but the funding provided to non CCN members through the BCF and precept remains significantly lower than other types of local authority, with London getting 72 per cent more per head of population aged over 65 in 2016/17.

Colin Noble, CCN’s spokesman for Health and Social Care, said:

“No-one should be left in a hospital bed if they are medically able to be treated in their own home, yet the sad reality is that this situation is going to become more commonplace unless a system of sustainable funding is found.

“County leaders are calling on the BCF to be brought forward, to give us a fighting chance of addressing this funding crisis which not only has an emotional impact on patients, but a severe financial impact on the NHS.

“But even if the BCF is to be frontloaded, the way it funds councils needs to be re-examined so that funding follows need. Despite county areas being home to the largest elderly population, and delayed transfers of care rising dramatically, urban areas benefit far more from the fund. And a holistic approach is required if councils and the NHS are to find locally-led solutions to ensure that people receive quality, safe care in the most appropriate setting.”

Last year, CCN warned of a care home crisis, with private clients paying a premium to subsidise local authority funded beds in research with healthcare consultants Laing Buisson.

Notes to Editor:

  • In 2015/16, there were 998,109 delayed days in county areas
  • Working on the basis that each delayed day costs the NHS £303 (according to Department of Health data published in November 2015), then delayed discharges in 2015/16 cost the NHS £302,427,027 in county areas
  • There has been a 22 per cent reduction in adult social care funding to CCN members from 2013/14 to 2015/16
  • CCN areas are home to the largest proportion of the elderly population (55%) and have the fastest growing elderly population at 2% per annum.
  • The funding provided per head to CCN members through the Better Care Fund and the social care precept in 2015/16 totals £79.58. This is lower than any other local authority type, with London authorities receiving 72 per cent more and Met authorities getting 39 per cent over CCN members’ allocation.
  • Analysis from the King’s Fund suggests that the New National Living Wage will add another £800million worth of funding pressure for social care, and it