125K people with no DOLs assessment, MPs hear in social care finance debate

There are 125,000 people not receiving an assessment for deprivation of liberty (DOLs) and 1.4 million people with an unmet need for social care – all because the Treasury sees the value of social care only in terms of what it can save the NHS, experts have told MPs.

In an inquiry into the implication of the budget on health and social care King’s Fund director of policy Richard Murray said that officials must see social care as an important service in its own right: “The point of funding social care is that it is for people who need social care services. Older people who may be struggling to live a reasonable life really need social care.”

In the debate, he told MPs that the Treasury sees social care just as a means to help the NHS. “We get trapped in the question of how much bang for your buck spending on social care can give the NHS.”

And, he said, this was difficult to quantify, due to complicated care pathways that can include informal care.

The DoLs statistics come from the latest NHS Digital report, which shows a wide range of variation across the country in the volumes of DoLS applications, their outcomes and how they were administered

The question of integrated funding was also raised during the debate. Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “In a local system, we should not be having discussions that say this is an NHS budget, this is a social care budget and this is a public health budget. Most of the people we see nowadays have complex needs. If we rob Peter to pay Paul, we go nowhere.”

However, explaining the Treasury actions, Anita Charlesworth, director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation added: “You have full A&Es and full hospitals from which you cannot discharge patients. You know there is a better way of delivering care, but if you have constrained resources you cannot afford the double-running. You get stuck in a position where you are compounding the problem because you cannot see a way of breaking out of that vicious cycle.”  

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