Report claims care system approaching breaking point

A top-level report on adult social care reveals that the system is fast approaching breaking point, a regional care group warned today. And they warn that social care is like the sick patient that nobody will listen to until it is too late.

The Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire) says the findings of a study by the National Audit Office backs up their fears over the future of care in this country. The National Audit Office’s report reveals a catalogue of concerns including:
•    Local authority spending on care falling by 8 per cent in two years
•    An unmet need for care for people living longer
•    Commissioners paying lower fees, putting pressure on providers
•    Increasing number of authorities only providing care for substantial or critical need
•    A lack of knowledge from local or national government over how long the current situation can be sustained

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire), said: “This backs up what we and others in social care have been warning of for many years. The system is fast reaching breaking point and the squeeze on local authority finance in recent years has served to exacerbate an already dire situation.

“People are going without care, providers are being starved of resources to provide proper care and invest in their provision and all the time demand grows.”
 
He says the latest report serves to add weight to a growing clamour for greater funding and support for the care of older and vulnerable adults in the UK.

“Social care in this country is like a sick patient that nobody is listening to,” he said. “The longer they go untreated, the worse their condition will become, until it is too late to provide any medicine.”

The National Audit Office’s report says that adults with long-term and multiple health conditions and disabilities are living longer. While the need for care continues to rise, local authorities’ spending on adult social care fell by 8 per cent in real terms between 2010-11 and 2012-13. Local authorities are making efficiency savings by changing contractual agreements, paying lower fees and negotiating bulk purchasing discounts.

This can put pressure on providers’ financial sustainability, with some reporting problems meeting all but users’ basic. Eighty seven per cent of adults now live in local authorities that arrange care services only for those with substantial or critical needs. The report also warns that the forthcoming Care Bill will introduce significant changes for local authorities which will be challenging to plan for because of a lack of information, lack of evidence on what works and short timescales.

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